Art and Faith

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Visions of Divinity. Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (music by Paul Hillier)

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Now… for something entirely different, as John Cleese would say! The Russian religious art of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin is matched with… a pre-Second Great Awakening American hymn! Unlike the vacuous and vapid music currently in use amongst Evangelical Protestants, there was a vigorous church music tradition growing in America prior to 1800. It was destroyed by the Second Great Awakening, which was, in actuality, a Second Reformation founding an entirely new non-Christian faith (I would say it is closer to Gnosticism than anything else). Music and texts quite similar to our own in Russia were replaced by treacly sentimentality and empty emotion expressing the non-credo of this new faith. I lament for a lost tradition (it exists today only in isolated pockets in the rural South, were it is known as “Sacred Harp” or “Shaped-note” singing). Deacon Andrei Kuraev spoke truly when he said that “Orthodoxy is fine music made in the conservatoire, whilst (Evangelical) Protestantism is low music made in the honky-tonk bars”. Amen!

BMD

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