Next Article in Journal
A Cognitive Science View of Abhinavagupta’s Understanding of Consciousness
Next Article in Special Issue
Dominican Chant and Dominican Identity
Previous Article in Journal
The Body Divine: Tantric Śaivite Ritual Practices in the Svacchandatantra and Its Commentary
Previous Article in Special Issue
Can Music “Mirror” God? A Theological-Hermeneutical Exploration of Music in the Light of Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Religions 2014, 5(3), 751-766;

The Liturgical Use of the Organ in the Sixteenth Century: the Judgments of Cajetan and the Dominican Order

St Michael's College, University of Toronto, 81 St Mary's Street, Toronto, M5S 1J4, Canada
Received: 10 June 2014 / Revised: 3 July 2014 / Accepted: 10 July 2014 / Published: 13 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music and Spirituality)
Full-Text   |   PDF [123 KB, uploaded 13 August 2014]


This paper explores the liturgical use of the organ in the sixteenth century according to the judgments of Tommaso de Vio, Cajetan (1469–1534) and the Dominicans. In particular, it asks the question: In worship, is solo organ music capable of conveying a specific meaning or a particular text (as seemed to be expected in alternatim practice)? The Dominican sources show an increasingly skeptical attitude, with a consequent tendency to limit the organ’s role in worship. The implication of this study is that organ alternatim did not fall out of favor (with the Dominicans at least) because it failed to carry out the job it was given in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but because it could not do the new job is was given in the sixteenth century. Organ alternatim made sense in a gothic worldview, but less so under the influence of renaissance humanism. While these Dominicans accepted the use of the organ, they did so with great concern at the potential influx of secular music into worship, since secular melodies and rhythms, even without their original words, bring multiple inappropriate associations. To remedy this, various strategies were used to harness instrumental music to text. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cajetan; Dominican order; organ; alternatim; Renaissance Cajetan; Dominican order; organ; alternatim; Renaissance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

O'Connor, M. The Liturgical Use of the Organ in the Sixteenth Century: the Judgments of Cajetan and the Dominican Order. Religions 2014, 5, 751-766.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top