Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England: Discourses, Sites and Identities, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England

Discourses, Sites and Identities, 1st Edition

By Jonathan Willis


314 pages

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pub: 2010-04-28
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'Church Music and Protestantism in Post-Reformation England' breaks new ground in the religious history of Elizabethan England, through a closely focused study of the relationship between the practice of religious music and the complex process of Protestant identity formation. Hearing was of vital importance in the early modern period, and music was one of the most prominent, powerful and emotive elements of religious worship. But in large part, traditional historical narratives of the English Reformation have been distinctly tone deaf. Recent scholarship has begun to take increasing notice of some elements of Reformed musical practice, such as the congregational singing of psalms in meter. This book marks a significant advance in that area, combining an understanding of theory as expressed in contemporary religious and musical discourse, with a detailed study of the practice of church music in key sites of religious worship. Divided into three sections - 'Discourses', 'Sites', and 'Identities' - the book begins with an exploration of the classical and religious discourses which underpinned sixteenth-century understandings of music, and its use in religious worship. It then moves on to an investigation of the actual practice of church music in parish and cathedral churches, before shifting its attention to the people of Elizabethan England, and the ways in which music both served and shaped the difficult process of Protestantisation. Through an exploration of these issues, and by reintegrating music back into the Elizabethan church, we gain an expanded and enriched understanding of the complex evolution of religious identities, and of what it actually meant to be Protestant in post-Reformation England.


'… Church Music and Protestantism is a learned and thought-provoking book… those expecting a detailed, meticulously researched monograph will be pleased.' Journal of Anglican and Episcopal History 'This is a truly exciting, ground-breaking book that discusses church music in the post-Reformation period in the round… Jonathan Willis displays amazing erudition whilst also providing a compelling read… This is thus a fascinating book that sheds light on many aspects of life in early modern England, far more than one might suppose from the title.' Ecclesiology Today 'Two features of the book stand out. First, Willis uses an exceptional range of sources: churchwardens’ accounts, ballads, and contemporary polemical, theological and educational works. Secondly, the prose has flashes of genuine wit and elegance. Above all, it is important to note that a short review cannot do justice to the nuances of his arguments and the careful way in which he responds to existing scholarship by historians and musicologists alike. Willis has completely altered the way in which we must think and write about Elizabethan church music.' History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I Discourses: 'A lawdable science': the cultural significance of music in early modern England; Church and music in Elizabethan England. Part II Sites: Musical provision in the Elizabethan parish church; Music and the Elizabethan cathedrals. Part III Identities: Educating the masses: pedagogy, propaganda, and Protestantism; Music and community in Elizabethan England; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dr. Jonathan Willis is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and Lecturer in Early Modern History at the department of history, University of Birmingham, UK.

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General