Taking seriously the practice and not just the theory of music, this ground-breaking collection of essays establishes a new standard for the interdisciplinary conversation between theology, musicology, and liturgical studies. The public making of music in our society happens more often in the context of chapels, churches, and cathedrals than anywhere else. The command to sing and make music to God makes music an essential part of the DNA of Christian worship.
The book’s three main parts address questions about the history, the performative contexts, and the nature of music. Its opening four chapters traces how accounts of music and its relation to God, the cosmos, and the human person have changed dramatically through Western history, from the patristic period through medieval, Reformation and modern times. A second section examines the role of music in worship, and asks what—if anything—makes a piece of music suitable for religious use. The final part of the book shows how the serious discussion of music opens onto considerations of time, tradition, ontology, anthropology, providence, and the nature of God.
A pioneering set of explorations by a distinguished group of international scholars, this book will be of interest to anyone interested in Christianity’s long relationship with music, including those working in the fields of theology, musicology, and liturgical studies.
Part 1: The Meanings of Music in Western History
1 Mellifluous Music in Early Western Christianity
2 ‘We Prefer Gods We Can See’: Music’s Mediations Between Seen Things and God in the Patristic and Medieval Periods
Nancy van Deusen
3 Hearing Revelation: Music and Theology in the Reformation
4 Music, Atheism, and Modernity: Aesthetics, Morality, and the Theological Construction of the Self
Part 2: The Work of Worship and the Meanings of Music
5 The Worship of God and the Quest of the Spirit: ‘Contemporary’ versus ‘Traditional’ Church Music
6 Musical Promiscuity: Can the Same Music Serve Sacred and Profane Ends Equally Well?
7 Mixing their Musick: Worship, Music, and Christian Communities
Part 3: The Meanings of Music and the Mystery of God
8 The Malleable Meanings of Music
9 The Material, the Moral and the Mysterious: Three Dimensions of Music
10 Absolute Music / Absolute Worship
Daniel K.L. Chua
Jeremy S. Begbie