1st Edition

Congregational Music, Conflict and Community

By Jonathan Dueck Copyright 2017
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Congregational Music, Conflict and Community is the first study of the music of the contemporary 'worship wars' – conflicts over church music that continue to animate and divide Protestants today – to be based on long-term in-person observation and interviews. It tells the story of the musical lives of three Canadian Mennonite congregations, who sang together despite their musical differences at the height of these debates in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mennonites are among the most music-centered Christian groups in North America, and each congregation felt deeply about the music they chose as their own. The congregations studied span the spectrum from traditional to blended to contemporary worship styles, and from evangelical to liberal Protestant theologies. At their core, the book argues, worship wars are not fought in order to please congregants' musical tastes nor to satisfy the theological principles held by a denomination. Instead, the relationships and meanings shaped through individuals’ experiences singing in the particular ways afforded by each style of worship are most profoundly at stake in the worship wars. As such, this book will be of keen interest to scholars working across the fields of religious studies and ethnomusicology.

    1 Introduction

    2 A Mennonite Performance of Community and Conflict

    3 Making Music Traditional: Choirs and Hymnody at First Mennonite Church

    4 Connecting with the Culture: Worship Music at River West Christian Church

    5 Making Space for Worship: The Blended Service at Holyrood Mennonite Church

    6 Genres, Identities and Individuals

    7 Departures, Returns and Invitations


    Jonathan Dueck is an Assistant Professor of Writing at the George Washington University. He previously held positions at Duke University, the University of Maryland and the University of Alberta. His PhD in music (ethnomusicology) is from the University of Alberta, where he worked with Regula Qureshi. His musical research explores musical practice, identity and conflict in affinity groups - especially North American religious groups (particularly Mennonites) examined in a global frame and sports fan groups. Together with Suzel Reily, he is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities (2016). He has published articles exploring Christian and Mennonite music in Ethnomusicology, the Journal of American Folklore, Popular Music and Society and a number of additional journals and edited collections.