28 January 2010

"Macaronic" not pejorative

In most encyclopedias or websites, the word macaronic is mentioned in a pejorative or at least patronizing way. Macaronic verse is often considered a minor category of comic literature, something not worth much scholarly attention.

But the word macaronic need not be used in a trivial context. Here is an account of "Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works: Christ ist erstanden":

"Many cantiones were translated into German long before the Reformation and were frequently sung antiphonally, particularly in Germany and Bohemia, with alternating Latin and German verses. A number of these mixed-language song pairs such as Surrexit Christus hodie – Erstanden ist der heilig Christ (and the completely macaronic In dulci jubilo – Nun singet und seid froh, with alternate Latin and German lines) were appropriated unchanged into the Reformation hymnbooks and are included in the Evangelisches Kirchen-Gesangbuch in German versions alone."

Here is a serious discussion of a serious form of art (sacred music). It is time to rehabilitate the word macaronic and to use it to indicate a serious form of literature.

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