Augustine's appraisal of music's moral value in Confessions, as selectively abbreviated by Isidore of Seville, provides a conceptual framework for understanding early medieval Iberian musical values. Augustine advocates a devotional focus primarily on text, expressing anxiety about elaborate liturgical music. For Isidore, by contrast, diverse melody leads both faithful and unfaithful toward a transcendent anticipation of heaven, beyond reason-based concentration on text. In this article I test the hypothesis that Isidore's musical values shaped the extant Old Hispanic chant texts and melodies, offering a new appraisal of the way Old Hispanic musical values and practice relate. Examples are drawn from Old Hispanic (“Mozarabic”) chant, whose texts (preserved before 732) are closer to the late antique context than any other Western liturgy. Old Hispanic melodies are preserved in unpitched notation ca. 900. The methodology developed here has the potential to be applied to other ritual traditions.
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