1st Edition

Ethics and Christian Musicking

Edited By Nathan Myrick, Mark Porter Copyright 2021
    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    The relationship between musical activity and ethical significance occupies long traditions of thought and reflection both within Christianity and beyond. From concerns regarding music and the passions in early Christian writings through to moral panics regarding rock music in the 20th century, Christians have often gravitated to the view that music can become morally weighted, building a range of normative practices and prescriptions upon particular modes of ethical judgment. But how should we think about ethics and Christian musical activity in the contemporary world?

    As studies of Christian musicking have moved to incorporate the experiences, agencies, and relationships of congregations, ethical questions have become implicit in new ways in a range of recent research - how do communities negotiate questions of value in music? How are processes of encounter with a variety of different others negotiated through musical activity? What responsibilities arise within musical communities? This volume seeks to expand this conversation. Divided into four sections, the book covers the relationship of Christian musicking to the body; responsibilities and values; identity and encounter; and notions of the self. The result is a wide-ranging perspective on music as an ethical practice, particularly as it relates to contemporary religious and spiritual communities.

    This collection is an important milestone at the intersection of ethnomusicology, musicology, religious studies and theology. It will be a vital reference for scholars and practitioners reflecting on the values and practices of worshipping communities in the contemporary world.

    Introduction: Music and Ethics in Contemporary Christianity

    Mark Porter and Nathan Myrick

    Part I: The Body and Beyond

    1 Praise, Politics, Power: Ethics of the Body in Christian Musicking

    Marcell Silva Steuernagel

    2 The Silence of the Monks—The Ethics of Everyday Sounds

    Marcel Cobussen

    3 Delay, or, When Breath Precedes Encounter: Aesthet(h)ic(al) Negotiations in Black Gospel’s Afro-Asian Crossings

    Bo kyung Blenda Im

    Part II: Fulfilling Responsibilities and Negotiating Values

    4 "That Worship Sound": Ethics, Things, and Shimmer Reverberation

    Jeff R Warren

    5 Amateurism-without-Amateurishness, or Authenticity as Vanishing Act in Evangelical Worship Music

    Joshua Kalin Busman

    6 Music Business, Ethics, and Christian Festivals: Progressive Christianity at Wild Goose Festival

    Andrew Mall

    7 The Ethics of Adaptation in Hymns and Songs for Worship

    Maggi Dawn

    Part III: Identity and Encounter

    8 "Hillsong and Black": The Ethics of Style, Representation and Identity in the Hillsong Megachurch

    Tanya Riches and Alexander Douglas

    9 A Worship-Rooted Lifestyle? Exploring Evangelical Ethics at Bethel Church, Redding, CA

    Emily Snider Andrews

    10 Applied Ethnomusicology in Postmission Australian Aboriginal Contexts: Ethical Responsibility, Style, and Aesthetics

    Muriel Swijghuisen Reigersberg

    11 Singing Together as Global Citizens: Toward a Musical Ethic of Relational Accompaniment

    Maren Haynes Marchesini

    Part IV: Valuing the Self

    12 Deceitful Hearts and Transformed Lives: Performing Truth and Truthfulness in Fundamentalist Christian Vocal Music

    Sarah Bereza

    13 Beyoncé Mass and the Flourishing of Black Women

    Tamisha Tyler

    14 Ethics, Experience, and Western Classical Sacred Music

    Jonathan Arnold


    Nathan Myrick is Assistant Professor of Church Music in the Townsend School of Music and Director of the Music and Human Flourishing Research Project (funded by a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship with Funds provided by the Lilly Endowment, Inc) at Mercer University. A graduate of Baylor University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Providence University College, his research focuses on musical activity and human flourishing in the context of Christian communities. He is the author of Music for Others: Care, Justice, and Relational Ethics in Christian Music (2021), and the author and series editor of "Music Matters" for Ethics Daily. His work has appeared in ​The Yale Journal of Music and Religion, Bloomsbury Academic, Liturgy, The Hymn, and others.

    Mark Porter studied at University College, Oxford, and King’s College, London, before completing his doctorate in ethnomusicology at City University, London in 2014. Following this, in 2015, he took up a postdoctoral fellowship at Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt. He is author of ​Contemporary Worship and Everyday Musical Lives (Routledge 2016) and Ecologies of Resonance in Christian Musicking (2020) and is co-founder and programme chair of the biennial Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives conference