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Historical Collection: Speaking to the Future Series
Christian Prayer: Hymns and Oration

Historical Collection: Speaking to the Future Series Christian Prayer: Hymns and Oration / Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 16   March 15, 2011 (Tue) - April 24, 2011 (Sun)

  
Madonna (Madonna of the Thumb), Formerly preserved by Nagasaki Magistrate's Office, 17th century, italy (Important Cultural Property)

Following the arrival of Jesuit missionary Francisco de Xavier in 1549, Christianity spread widely throughout Japan over a forty-year period, as did hymns and other forms of Christian music.

At academies established by the Jesuits in Azuchi (present-day Azuchi-cho in Omi-Hachiman city, Shiga prefecture) and Arima (present-day Minami-Shimabara city, Nagasaki prefecture), music was taught together with Western thought, religion, philosophy, literature and art. These facilities, along with the churches of the time, would have echoed with the sound of local people playing organ music and singing in chorus. Powerful warrior Oda Nobunaga is said to have taken a deep interest in European instruments such as the clavichord and viola, savoring their exotic tone.

In 1582, four youths who studied at the academy in Arima travelled to Europe as envoys, impressing locals at their destinations with recitals performed on European instruments. After their return to Japan, they also performed for the potentate Toyotomi Hideyoshi, reportedly playing three encores.

After the strict suppression of Christianity began, however, people were no longer able to sing hymns in chorus. Worship came to be practiced in secret, through a distinctive style of oration stripped of musical rhythm and tone.

This exhibition showcases objects used in the practice of Christianity in Japan, as well as materials related to the music of Christian worship, illustrating how Christianity was embraced during in the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

 Major works in this exhibition

* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Relatione del Viaggio, et Arrivo in Europa et Roma de Prencipi Giapponesi ("Concerning the Voyage of Four Young Japanese Men to Rome"), Published in Reggio, Italy, Dated 1585 (Important Cultural Property)
Madonna (Madonna of the Thumb), Formerly preserved by Nagasaki Magistrate's Office, 17th century, Italy (Important Cultural Property)
Prayer Book, Azuchi-Momoyama - Edo period, 16th - 17th century (Gift of Mr. Katayama Naoto)

Related Events

<Gallery Talks>   Christian Prayer
Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 16  March 15, 2011 (Tue)   14:00 - 14:30  
Heiseikan Auditorium  April 17, 2011 (Sun)   13:30 - 15:00   RESERVE_DAY