The Generation of Meaning in Liturgical Songs: A Semiotic Analysis of Five Liturgical Songs as Syncretic Discourses

Series: Liturgia Condenda (v.4)
This book is about the meaning of liturgical songs. Everybody who sings liturgical songs knows what a liturgical song is and also what it eans. But when we start to talk about them, things become confused. We know too much and there are too many languages in which we can express what we think their meaning is. And what is worse, other people seem not to understand what we say and immediately reply that we may know a lot but not what they know. Then the discussion turns into a quarrel amongst people who know too much and connot communicate what they know. A wise person may enter into the quarrel and say that communication about liturgical songs can only succeed when we sing together. Then we will sing together, confused and angry, because we now also know that the other people may sing very well but do not understand what they are doing. This is what has been happening for decades in the Dutch churches. Perhaps we should be silent and start to look and listen very carefully to liturgical songs, while developing a language in which the songs themselves can speak, communicating what they have to say. The looking and listening will take much time and energy: there are no more easy answers. And the language will be so difficult that we are forced to be silent, waiting and hoping for a word to come. Willem Marie Speelman (1960) is a musicologist, theologian and semiotician. In the present work he develops a very strict scientific method which can help to understand how liturgical songs work , that is, in what manner they generate meaning.