Andrew A. Cashner


Full curriculum vitae

Peer-Reviewed Publications


Hearing Faith: Music as Theology in the Spanish Empire

Leiden: Brill, 2020

Purchase from Brill or recommend to your library

Hearing Faith explores the ways Roman Catholics in the seventeenth-century Spanish Empire used music to connect faith and hearing. From the Royal Chapel in Madrid to Puebla Cathedral in colonial Mexico, communities celebrated Christmas and other feasts with villancicos, a widespread genre of vernacular poetry and devotional music. A large proportion of villancico texts directly address the nature of hearing and the power of music to connect people to God. By interpreting complex and fascinating examples of “music about music” in the context of contemporary theological writing, the book shows how Spanish Catholics embodied their beliefs about music, through music itself. Listening closely to these previously undiscovered and overlooked archival sources reveals how Spanish subjects listened and why.

Critical Music Editions

Villancicos about Music from Seventeenth-Century Spain and New Spain

  • Volume 1: Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music, no. 32 (2017)
  • Volume 2: Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music, no. 36 (2021)

Journal Articles

Imitating Africans, Listening for Angels: A Slaveholder’s Fantasy of Social Harmony in an Ethnic Villancico from Colonial Puebla (1652)

The Journal of Musicology, vol. 38, issue 2 (2021), pp. 141–182

  • Download PDF of full text1
  • Recording of my edition of Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla's Al estáblo más dichoso by the Newberry Consort

Church ensembles of Spaniards across the Spanish Empire regularly impersonated African and other non-Castilian characters in the villancicos they performed in the Christmas Matins liturgy. Although some scholars and performers still mistakenly assume that ethnic villancicos preserve authentic Black or Native voices, and others have critiqued them as Spaniards’ racist caricatures, there have been few studies of the actual music or of specific local contexts. This article analyzes Al establo más dichoso (At the happiest stable), an ensaladilla composed by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla for Christmas 1652 at Puebla Cathedral. In this performance his ensemble impersonated an array of characters coming to Christ’s mangers, including Indian farm laborers and African slaves. The composer uses rhythm to differentiate the speech and movement of each group, and at the climax he even has the Angolans and the angels sing together—but in different meters. Based on the first edition of this music, the article interprets this villancico within the social and theological context of colonial Puebla and its new cathedral, consecrated in 1649. I argue that through this music, members of the Spanish elite performed their own vision of a hierarchical and harmonious society. Gutiérrez de Padilla was himself both a priest and a slaveholder, and his music elevates its characters in certain ways while paradoxically also mocking them and reinforcing their lowly status. Building on Paul Ricoeur’s concept of the three worlds of the text, the article compares the representations imagined within the musical performance with archival evidence for the social history of the people represented and the composer’s own relationships with them (the world behind the text). Looking to the world projected in front of the text, I argue that these caricatured representations both reflected and shaped Spaniards’ attitudes toward their subjects in ways that actively affected the people represented. At the same time, I argue that Spanish representations mirrored practices of impersonation among Native American and African communities, especially the Christmastide Black Kings festivals, pointing to a more complex and contradictory vision of colonial society than what we can see from the slaveholder’s musical fantasy alone.

Playing Cards at the Eucharistic Table: Music, Theology, and Society in a Corpus Christi Villancico from Colonial Mexico, 1628

Selected for the 2015 Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society

Journal of Early Modern History, vol. 18, no. 4 (2014), 383—419

  • Download PDF of full text2
  • Performance of surviving parts on organ by Andrew Cashner (recorded in Fulton Hall, University of Chicago, 2011):

As part of the festivities of Corpus Christi in 1628, a cathedral choir in colonial Mexico sang about the Eucharist through the metaphor of a card game. This music is a previously unstudied, fragmentary villancico, composed by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla for the cathedral of Puebla de los Ángeles, and it opens a window into the social history of card-playing and gambling in the Spanish colonies. It stems from a broader tradition of divinizing cards, including poetry and drama by Lope de Vega and González de Eslava. The article explores the theological and social implications of using liturgical music to present Christ as a rogue card player, winning humanity back from the devil by laying down the trump card of his own body on the table. Includes an edition of the surviving music. The online version includes a recording played on the organ by the author.

PhD Dissertation

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

University of Chicago, 2015 (Advisor: Robert L. Kendrick)

The dissertation is available through ProQuest Dissertations, but it is now superseded by my monograph, edition, and additional publications currently under review, which correct its errors.

In seventeenth-century Mexico and Spain, many villancicos (the predominant genre of vocal sacred music with vernacular words) used music to represent itself, with topics of singing, dancing, and music of the spheres. This study draws on such pieces as sources for understanding early modern Catholic beliefs about music. The central question concerns music’s role in the relationship between hearing and faith, particularly as used by the Spanish church and state. In a series of case studies, the project traces lineages of “metamusical” villancicos on the subject of heavenly music through networks of interrelated musicians. The study balances a global perspective with local case studies, with particular focus on Puebla de los Ángeles in Mexico and Montserrat, Segovia, and Zaragoza in Spain.

Master’s Thesis

The Reception of Paul Gerhardt’s Hymns in the Seventeenth Century

University of Notre Dame, 2009 (Advisor: Mary E. Frandsen)

Despite the prominence of the hymns of Paul Gerhardt (1607–1676) in the liturgical works of J. S. Bach and in churches today, scholars like Irmgard Scheitler and Walter Blankenburg have argued that Lutherans in the seventeenth century used new hymns like Gerhardt’s only for private devotion, and did not sing them in public liturgies until the eighteenth century, under the influence of Pietism. In contrast, Christian Bunners argues that church choirs introduced the liturgical use of these hymns before Pietism. This thesis explores the role of Gerhardt’s hymns in Lutheran communities in the three spheres of home, school, and church. It critically examines numerous hymnal publications, and presents new evidence from school and church manuscript collections and inventories, not considered by the other scholars, arguing that Gerhardt’s hymns were not relegated to domestic use, but were also sung in church in many places by school choirs and perhaps also congregations.