Andrew A. Cashner

Dissertation Summary

Faith, Hearing, and the Power of Music in Hispanic Villancicos, 1600–1700

Andrew A. Cashner

PhD Dissertation, Department of Music, University of Chicago, June 2015

Central question


Part I: Hearing Faith through Music in Villancicos

Chapter 1: Villancicos as Musical Theology


Key examples:

Chapter 2: Music’s Power in the Relationship between Hearing and Faith


  1. The Challenge of Making Faith Appeal to Hearing
    • Sources: The Tridentine Catechism and related literature on making faith appeal to hearing,
    • Athanasius Kircher on the power of music,
    • Calderón’s Corpus Christi play El nuevo palacio del Retiro on the weakness (and therefore virtue) of hearing and the incapacity of some to believe
  2. Villancicos on Sensation and Faith
    • Examples: Settings of Si los sentidos queja forman del pan divino (a contest of the senses) by Miguel de Irízar and Jerónimo de Carrión of Segovia,
    • Villancicos on sensory confusion (including synesthesia) and deprivation,
    • Villancicos of the Deaf Men by Juan Gutíerrez de Padilla and Matías Ruiz
  3. Listening for Unhearable Music: The Power of Music in the Neoplatonic Tradition
    • Music as a way of hearing the book of nature read aloud
    • Sources: Augustine, Boethius, Fray Luis de Granada, Introducción del símbolo de la fe, Kircher, Musurgia universalis
  4. Three Theological Functions of Villancicos: Mnemonic, Contemplative, Affective

Part II: Singing about Singing: Music as a Reflection of Heaven and an Expression of Humanity

Chapter 3: Voice and Incarnation in Padilla, Voces, las de la capilla (Puebla, 1657)

Chapter 4: Heavenly Dissonance in Cererols, Suspended, cielos (Montserrat, ca. 1660)

Chapter 5: The Human Side of Heavenly Music in Segovia (Irízar, Carrión, 1671–1720)

Chapter 6: The Limits of Imitation in Zaragoza (Bruna, Ambiela, J. de Cáseda, to ca. 1700)

Part III: The Power of Music in Building a Colonial City

Chapter 7: Gathering Everyone to Christ’s Stable: Social Meanings of Rhythmic Movement in Puebla de los Ángeles

Chapter 8: Conclusions and Challenges


Dissertation Committee