Nevidím Tě! / I do not see you!

papír, tempera - studie k obrazu / paper, tempera - the study for painting




Je úzkostí duše – ale také nadějí. Nadějí, že jednou vidět budeme. Chápu proto tento výkřik duše jako vášnivé přitakání životu. Nevidím tě – ale Já tě vidím…skoč!



I cannot see you!


 It is anxiety of soul - but also hope. The hope that one day we will see. I understand this cry as a passionate affirmation to life. I cannot see you - but I see you ... jump!









Jan Hanuš - Who is Singing is Praying twice


Reflection on a further evolution of liturgy music which the Second Vatican council initiated and which proceeds from three characteristic features of Roman Catholic church life.

From its universality, 2) from its “Face full of glory”, and 3) from its readiness to be always the “Mother of the poor”. From the dualism between Rome and Assisi.

No doubt that on the threshold of the third millenium our world and the church which lives in it are expecting profound changes. It is possible to get prepared for them only generally. The three basic features we want to consider give the ability to the church not to only keep regenerating, but also a power to be a determining factor in the culture area.

Ad 1) Roman Catholic church has been universal since its origin. In this way it is well prepared for globalization of the world. The significant part was in the past played by Latin which used to be a base for understanding among medieval educated people. Even now this language of culture, spirit and international life of the church could become a sound counterbalance to the contemporary universal language – English. This has become a common language not only in the West which is involved in economy and indifferent to issues of spirit and ethics, but even in the East which is often hostile to church, atheistic. And this is why we should not give Latin up.

If we sometimes say that art is a prognostic feeler of the future, we have a clear signal here: after a visa barrier dropped a frequent international exchange of singing and church choirs has been launched and with it also a great call for choir compositions to Latin texts. (Even in countries with non-Catholic majority they are also sung with services in the reformed churches and even published.)

Ad 2) “Face full of glory” (Rome)

Immediately after persecution was put to an end the church began to work for celebrating its Triune God and that on a highest artistic level – It gathered the world’s top artists and skilled artisans around itself: architects, sculptors, painters, musicians. In convents there rises Gregorian chant from which all European artificial music developed. (For what is the difference between the choral ornamentation of an anonymous monk and a coloratura of the rococo cavalier Mozart? Only the shift of the world during centuries.) From Palestrina, Grand Mass in B minor by the Lutheran Bach to Latin text of the Catholic mass ordinary, Beethoven, a Jew Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Glagolska mass by the more or less pagan Janáček, to the present Catholic composing generation and to the contemporary works of evangelists Havelka and Kurz to Latin and Czech biblical texts (Lady themes including)! Everywhere we clearly feel the presence of St. Spirit, everywhere the spiritual creative work belongs to the pink of their life work.

Spiritual music of the most profound artistic goals has the time of its life after the totalitarian era drop and this bears testimony for a hopeful development of spiritual values in the next millennium.

Music always has been the same significant component of God celebration as the other art branches. The iconoclasm fights were finished in the churches long ago. We spend quite a lot of money a year to renew churches, sculptures and paintings. Only music attracts nearly no attention, though liturgy cannot do easily without it. Of course music has a disadvantage that if it is to live, it needs mediation, singers and musicians. – Here we should self-critically think on if we sometimes do not deliver the representative gems of our cultural heritage to the tender mercies of time. The ancient Slavonic liturgy, the incredibly rich literature of Advent, Christmas and Lent which are our title of honor for our admission into the EU get more and more covered with dust. They are not edited – not performed.

A painful chapter is, too, represented by the current condition of spiritual music in the St. Vitus’ s cathedral. Thanks to God it seems to get better, there seems to be a hope as for the organ reconstruction, and thanks to Martin Pomba a rudiment of a choir and school took origin. Yet in the cathedral music is vegetating and that on the level of which we will speak later on ad 3) “Mother of the Poor”.

The cathedral is too large and in addition surrounded by offices and that is why it cannot make its own parish community. Czech believers can fill it only under some particular occasions. Like in all world centers it is above all visited by foreigners and these of course expect music performances on the high level and also – if they are to feel there as in the pale of the Church – even Latin. And it is music, the language of feelings (B. Smetana), which in harmony with architecture, paintings and sculptures significantly addresses a receptive visitor, perhaps a foreigner, and thus constitutes the typical and unique genius loci of the cathedral. – After the unforgettable era of Dr. Jan Hruška at the choir the current state rises a dejected impression.

Ad 3) “The Mother of the Poor” (Assisi)

Even the most beautiful music in cathedrals cannot solve the liturgy problems of small country churches. – Now there is the time to stir one’s heart: It concerns the Czech poets, composers and of course the Society for Spiritual music.

Perhaps children choirs and singing ensembles could solve the problem. Children should not only accumulate genuine spiritual and artistic values in churches, but also achieve there high sense of duty, a collective discipline and a preventive defense from danger to which they are exposed at schools, discotheques and other places. Statistics give evidence that children who for several years were subject to children choir activities, are practically immune to the danger of drugs, spirit, sexual extremities and further dangers of the contemporary civilization. (The Czech Society for Music possesses a rich documentation on this issue.) The rooted conservatism can be only surmounted by a new generation perhaps.

Of course we must admit right now that we lack of a sufficient amount of literature on a needed level.

It is an error in principle to transfer the musical pop to spiritual and liturgical texts. Never has anything of value risen from an epigonous imitation. Moreover in this case it is not a work of art which is imitated but the music industry without any participation of spirit, the less of the Holy Spirit. A few exceptions only confirm the rule. We only adapt to an ephemeral mode which is cynically aimed at deafening audiences’ feelings with the rush of sounds and bring him to ecstasy – with all consequences. – Fortunately what is being produced in our churches only is five times boiled decoction which is ridiculous for real rock fans. But in children it reduces the results of ethical affection of the really artistic music and thus reduces their resistance against what TV, radios, stores and streets spout up at them from morning to night. Here it is necessary to stress the demand of the Second Vatican Council that the Church gives sanction to all forms of the genuine art when they possess the appropriate properties, and accepts them into liturgy (SC, 112).

Poets and composers now face a most difficult task: to create new, simple, non-conventional works facile both in voice-span and technical skill. One has to renounce oneself and become like anonymous creators of the medieval cloisters, to search for ever new ways of linking up of God’s people to the liturgy of weekdays and feast days. Only thus it is possible to give origin to a new ordinary, proprium, psalm and other songs according to the year of the Church.

Of course it is not sufficient only to create this literature, it is necessary to publish it as well and distribute to ensembles, care for education of conductors, organists etc.

It is a task for the third millennium! If we do not want to lose heart when thinking of it, we must be aware of the fact that the Church lives with its own sidereal time of centenaries and millennia, whereas we only know our short terms, years and decades. It has always been living and will be living on music of cathedrals and small country churches. And namely in this and in its sidereal time it is so powerful.

The presupposition of success perhaps is to know how to separate tradition from conservatism. Further it is essential to edify parish children and youth ensembles (Moravia seems to be ahead in this field), because only these will be willing to learn new works and perhaps also teach other God’s people to them.

As for printing and distribution, let us join Kardis and ROSA. Works which draw on ecumenical biblical texts open for us the way to other Christian churches and thus give another spiritual dimension to our effort.

If the next millennium is stigmatized with poor countries problems, as it seems this will take place, then even here we can find an example, and that in the life of St. Francis of Assisi, both in spiritual, ethical and artifice issues. The Song of the Sun’s Brother is the most beautiful example of the art – new and simple at the same time. An example for every creative man of the present and future.