1st Edition

Church Music Through the Lens of Performance

By Marcell Silva Steuernagel Copyright 2021
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is an investigation into church music through the lens of performance theory, both as a discipline and as a theoretical framework. Scholars who address religious music making in general, and Christian church music in particular, use "performance" in a variety of ways, creating confusion around the term. A systematized performance vocabulary for the study of church music can support interdisciplinary investigations of Christian congregational music making in today’s complex, interconnected world.

    From the perspective of performance theory, all those involved in church musicking are performing, be it from platform or pew. The book employs a hybrid methodology that combines ethnographic research and theory from ritual studies, ethnomusicology, theology, and church music scholarship to establish performance studies as a possible "next step" in church music studies. It demonstrates the feasibility of studying church music as performance by analyzing ethnographic case studies using a developmental framework based on the concepts of ritual, embodiment, and play/change.

    This book offers a fresh perspective on Christian congregational music making. It will, therefore, be a key reference work for scholars working in Congregational Music Studies, Ethnomusicology, Ritual Studies and Performance Studies, as well as practitioners interested in examining their own church music practices.

    Introduction: Performing Church Music

    1 The Next Step: Performance Studies?

    2 Ritual and Performance in Church Music Studies

    3 Talking About Ritual, Participating in Ritual

    4 Body in Worship: Church Music and Embodiment

    5 Making Special, Play, and Change

    6 Performing Church Music: Faith, Community, Tradition

    Conclusion: "A Larger Performance"

    Appendix A: Interview Reference List

    Appendix B: Interview Outline


    Marcell Silva Steuernagel is Assistant Professor of Church Music and Director of the Master of Sacred Music Program at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, USA. Marcell writes at the intersection of church music, theology, musicology, and performance theory. He served as Minister of Worship, Arts and Communication at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Curitiba, Brazil, for more than a decade and is an internationally active composer and performer.

    "Performance" is a troublesome word for musical leaders who attempt to understand their role in worship, sometimes seeing spiritual authenticity as incompatible with the complex skills required of a performer in worship. Professor Steuernagel provides a nuanced description of embodied worship performance and offers self-awareness strategies for those that guide sacred ritual. Integrating a complex array of fields, this is break-through research that offers a clear framework for redefining the vocation of the musical worship leader across musical styles and cultural, ethnic, and ecclesial contexts.

    C. Michael Hawn, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music, Adjunct Professor and Director, Doctor of Pastoral Music Program, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, USA

    Music is never alone. By bringing the multi-disciplinary lens of performance studies to church music, Marcell Silva Steuernagel expands our awareness of how musical acts of worship are embodied, constitutive actions. Performing music doesn't just bring a repertoire to life but the music brings us to life. Balancing ethnography with critical analysis, Silva Steuernagel offers a smart and thoughtful way to understand the complexities of community and identity.

    Anna Nekola, Assistant Professor of Music, Canadian Mennonite University, Canada