Jesuit Missionaries On South American Music

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To discuss the influence of Jesuit missionaries on South American music, it is first necessary to give a little background information on whom the Jesuits were/are and why they came to South America. The term “Jesuit” refers to someone belonging to the Society of Jesus (abbreviated S.J.), an order in the Roman Catholic Church. The Jesuits are the largest order in the Roman Catholic Church with an estimated 18,000 members as of 2013. The current pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is a member of the Jesuit society, the first Jesuit, in fact, to hold that position. In the past, Jesuits have served frequently as missionaries and founders of educational institutions but rarely been in high positions of leadership. Caleb Bell explains…show more content…
Ignatius was a Spanish soldier and had a conversion experience after being wounded in battle. Bell observes that: “Jesuits are sometimes known as ‘God’s Marines’, after Loyola’s military history, and their missions worldwide.” Almost immediately after its acceptance as an official order, the Society of Jesus sent out its first missionaries. By 1622, less than 100 years later, there were Jesuit missionaries on every habitable continent except Australia. The society did not adhere to religious practices such as regular penance, fasts, and uniforms that other orders in the Church emphasized. This allowed them to be more flexible in their evangelism and missionary work. The largest influx of Jesuit missionaries to South America occurred between the late 1500s and the mid-1700s, when they were expelled from the various regons of South America. The Jesuit missionaries reached people groups all over South America and Mexico, including native peoples from the modern day nations of Paraguay, Uraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. The Society of Jesus was not the only Roman Catholic order to send missionaries to South American nations. Other orders included: Augustinians, Dominicans, and…show more content…
The harp quickly became a popular instrument in Ecuador and Paraguay, particularly. The three main types of Ecuadorian harps are: the Imbabura harp, the folkloric harp, and the Ecuadorian-Paraguayan harp. In Paraguay, the harp has become a symbol of national significance. There are several music groups today that perform Baroque music of the South American Jesuit missions hundreds of years ago. Two examples are: the Arakaendar Bolivian Choir, which produced a three-volume c.d. set called “Bolivian Baroque” in 2010 , and Sphere Antiqva, a group based in Spain that performs both Spanish and Latin American Baroque music. Today, the influence of the Jesuit missionaries in South America has reached beyond spreading Baroque music and European instruments to inspiring an idealism of music education and social empowerment in communities. Sonidos de la Tierra is an organization begun by Paraguayan Luis Szaran in 2002 that “engages entire towns in supporting music education and performance, and in so doing, creates new ways of thinking about development

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