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Staging HarmonyMusic and Religious Change in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Drama$
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Katherine Steele Brokaw

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501703140

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501703140.001.0001

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Propaganda and Psalms

Propaganda and Psalms

Early Elizabethan Drama

(p.122) Chapter 4 Propaganda and Psalms
Staging Harmony

Katherine Steele Brokaw

Cornell University Press

Plays and the congregational singing of metrical psalms in churches were used to promote the early Elizabethan religious agenda. Morality plays represent and examine the role music may or may not have in spreading the new faith, often exposing inconsistencies and discrepancies in doctrine and practice. From the optimistic endorsements of psalms in Cambises and Patient and Meek Grissill, to explorations of music’s ability or failure to mediate between principles of Calvinism, conversion, and education in The Trial of Treasure; Like Will to Like, Quoth the Devil; and The Longer Thou Livest, the More Fool Thou Art, to an attempt at social and theological conciliation in Misogonus, plays of the 1560s and 1970s reveal that, as the early years of Elizabeth’s reign wore on, the role of music in religious life was increasingly fraught. This chapter examines the music of these plays to reveal how both drama and music became increasingly compromised tools of propaganda.

Keywords:   Elizabeth I, morality plays, metrical psalms, religious propaganda, drama, music

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