Special Issue "Music: Its Theologies and Spiritualities—A Global Perspective"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (8 October 2017).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Edward Foley
Website
Guest Editor
Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL 60615, USA
Interests: liturgy; practical theology; preaching; social justice; young scholars
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Music, spirituality and theology are vast fields of study, each expanding in terms of methods and fields of inquiry at a virtually incalculable rate. This rapid expansion, however, is also the opportunity for new and unexplored intersections between these traditionally related fields. This Special Issue will showcase some of these intersections in their global and contextual diversity. Of particular interest are contributions that show this intersection on the margins of the disciplines and mainstream religious-spiritual practices.

Prof. Dr. Edward Foley
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Music
  • Spirituality
  • Theology
  • Context
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Intersections
  • Margins

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Music and Spirituality: A Journey into Porosity
Religions 2020, 11(10), 532; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11100532 - 19 Oct 2020
Abstract
Serving as an introduction to this special issue of Religion entitled “Music and Spirituality: A Journey into Porosity,” this introduction frames the following eight essays by considering the ambiguity not only of the meaning of music itself, but also of spirituality, liturgical-sacred music [...] Read more.
Serving as an introduction to this special issue of Religion entitled “Music and Spirituality: A Journey into Porosity,” this introduction frames the following eight essays by considering the ambiguity not only of the meaning of music itself, but also of spirituality, liturgical-sacred music and other frames that attempt to examine and sometimes delimit the power of music. While taxonomies and theoretical boundaries are still useful, they need to be employed with some caution in view of the musical and spiritual realities they are attempting to describe or analyze. Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
“I Love It When You Play that Holy Ghost Chord”: Sounding Sacramentality in the Black Gospel Tradition
Religions 2020, 11(9), 452; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11090452 - 04 Sep 2020
Abstract
This essay argues that the distinctive aesthetic practices of many African American Christian congregations, indexed by the phrase “the Black gospel tradition”, are shaped by a sacramentality of sound. I contend that the role music routinely plays in the experience of the holy [...] Read more.
This essay argues that the distinctive aesthetic practices of many African American Christian congregations, indexed by the phrase “the Black gospel tradition”, are shaped by a sacramentality of sound. I contend that the role music routinely plays in the experience of the holy uncovers sanctity in the sound itself, enabling it to function as a medium of interworldly exchange. As divine power takes an audible form, the faith that “comes by hearing” is confirmed by religious feeling—both individual and collective. This sacramentality of sound is buttressed by beliefs about the enduring efficacy of divine speech, convictions that motivate the intensive character of gospel’s songs, sermons, and shouts. The essay begins with a worship service from Chicago, Illinois’ Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, an occasion in which the musical accompaniment for holy dancing brought sound’s sacramental function into particularly clear relief. In the essay’s second section, I turn to the live recording of Richard Smallwood’s “Hebrews 11”, a recording that accents the creative power of both divine speech and faithful utterances, showing how reverence for “the word of God” inspires the veneration of musical sound. In the article’s final move, I show how both of the aforementioned performances articulate a sacramental theology of sound—the conviction that sound’s invisible force brings spiritual power to bear on the material world. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Polyphony and Poikilia: Theology and Aesthetics in the Exegesis of Tradition in Georgian Chant
Religions 2019, 10(7), 402; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070402 - 26 Jun 2019
Abstract
Georgian polyphonic chant and folk song is beginning to receive scholarly attention outside its homeland, and is a useful case study in several respects. This study focuses on the theological nature of its musical material, examining relevant examples in light of the patristic [...] Read more.
Georgian polyphonic chant and folk song is beginning to receive scholarly attention outside its homeland, and is a useful case study in several respects. This study focuses on the theological nature of its musical material, examining relevant examples in light of the patristic understanding of hierarchy and prototype and of iconography and liturgy. After brief historical and theological discussions, chant variants and paraliturgical songs from various periods and regions are analysed in depth, using a primarily geometrical approach, describing the iconography and significance of style, musical structure, contrapuntal relationships, melodic figuration, and ornamentation. Aesthetics and compositional processes are discussed, and the theological approach in turn sheds light on questions of historical development. It is demonstrated that Georgian polyphony is a rich repository of theology of the Trinity and the Incarnation, and the article concludes with broad theological reflections on the place of sound as it relates to text, prayer, and tradition over time. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Keening the Dead: Ancient History or a Ritual for Today?
Religions 2019, 10(4), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10040235 - 29 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
In his 1909 work ‘Rites De Passage’, Arnold van Gennep acknowledges that a ritual often contains ‘rites within rites’. So, it was with the ancient ritual of the Irish wake, at the center of which was another ritual, that of the keen, the [...] Read more.
In his 1909 work ‘Rites De Passage’, Arnold van Gennep acknowledges that a ritual often contains ‘rites within rites’. So, it was with the ancient ritual of the Irish wake, at the center of which was another ritual, that of the keen, the Irish funeral lament. The past tense is used tentatively here, as in this article the author explores the resilience of the ritual and how, rather than becoming extinct, the keen seems to spend periods of time underground before erupting again in a new form, attuning itself to a more contemporaneous social situation. Drawing on ethnographic and bibliographic research undertaken between 2010 and 2018, the author traces some of the history of the keen within the ritual of the Irish wake and funeral and gives instances of how it is being reconfigured in the 21st century. This continuation of the ritual, albeit in a new format, seems to speak to a deep emotional and spiritual need that may not be satisfied by more conventional religion in Ireland. Finally, the author considers the keen’s relevance and place in Irish society today. Full article
Open AccessArticle
TheoArtistry, and a Contemporary Perspective on Composing Sacred Choral Music
Religions 2018, 9(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9010007 - 28 Dec 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
This article presents the methodology and research underpinning the TheoArtistry Composers’ Scheme, a project based in ITIA (the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts), School of Divinity, University of St Andrews (2016–2017). I analyse Sir James MacMillan’s theology of music, outline [...] Read more.
This article presents the methodology and research underpinning the TheoArtistry Composers’ Scheme, a project based in ITIA (the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts), School of Divinity, University of St Andrews (2016–2017). I analyse Sir James MacMillan’s theology of music, outline some practical and theoretical issues that arose in setting up theologian-composer partnerships, and reflect critically on the six new works of sacred choral music that emerged (these are printed as supplementary materials). The article assesses the implications of such collaboration for future work at the interface between theology and music, and between theology and the arts more generally. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Liminality, Postmodernity and Passion: Towards a Theoretical Framework for the study of 21st Century Choral Passion Settings
Religions 2017, 8(12), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8120265 - 07 Dec 2017
Abstract
After more than a century of neglect of the form, over thirty major concert works with “Passion” within the title have emerged into the choral landscape during the past 50 years. These settings use diverse libretti, drawing from sources both sacred and secular; [...] Read more.
After more than a century of neglect of the form, over thirty major concert works with “Passion” within the title have emerged into the choral landscape during the past 50 years. These settings use diverse libretti, drawing from sources both sacred and secular; some of the composers of these works profess Christianity, some adhere to other religious traditions, and some do not profess any particular faith at all. Their only common threads seem to be their self-identification with the title of “Passion”, and their depiction of a story in which a particular individual undergoes suffering and death. The purpose of this article is not to analyze specific Passion settings but rather to explore the structural form and content of the Passion genre as a whole, and begin to develop an interdisciplinary framework for future analysis of this body of music, using the tools offered by the field of liminal studies. Additionally, this essay will explore how the concept of Postmodernism, both as it manifests both in Western culture and through that culture’s artistic and musical expression, might give some insight into the Passion form’s resurgence into modern musical thought. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Untidy Playground: An Irish Congolese Case Study in Sonic Encounters with the Sacred Stranger
Religions 2017, 8(11), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8110249 - 15 Nov 2017
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper explores the proposal that music, and particularly singing, has unique properties that render it amenable to encounters with “the other” or the sacred stranger. Drawing on the deconstructionist works of Kristeva and Derrida, as well as the postmodern hermeneutics of Kearney [...] Read more.
This paper explores the proposal that music, and particularly singing, has unique properties that render it amenable to encounters with “the other” or the sacred stranger. Drawing on the deconstructionist works of Kristeva and Derrida, as well as the postmodern hermeneutics of Kearney and Caputo, it explores current debate concerning the nature of “the sacred” in contemporary life and the erosion of the theistic/atheistic divide, while proposing a deepening of the debate through the inclusion of the performative. As philosophical and theological discourses embrace this aporia, it does so against the backdrop of unprecedented human migration. The concomitant cultural and social disruption throws up new questions around the nature and experience of religion, spirituality and the sacred. This paper explores these questions in the context of a Congolese choir called Elikya, which was established by a group of asylum seekers in Limerick city, Ireland, in 2001. In tracking the musical life of this choir over the last decade and a half, including two musical recordings and numerous liturgical, religious and secular performances, it suggests that the sonic world of the choir both performs and transcends these descriptors. Using a three-fold model of context, content and intent, the paper concludes that musical experiences such as those created by Elikya erode any easy divisions between the religious and the secular or the liturgical and the non-liturgical and provide sonic opportunities to encounter the sacred stranger in the untidy playground of creative chaos. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Dieter Schnebel: Spiritual Music Today
Religions 2017, 8(9), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8090185 - 11 Sep 2017
Abstract
This article presents an annotated English translation of the composer-theologian Dieter Schnebel’s seminal essay exploring music’s spiritual capacities. Speaking explicitly from his time and place, Schnebel considers compositional questions arising from the most advanced new music of European modernism. The approach is driven [...] Read more.
This article presents an annotated English translation of the composer-theologian Dieter Schnebel’s seminal essay exploring music’s spiritual capacities. Speaking explicitly from his time and place, Schnebel considers compositional questions arising from the most advanced new music of European modernism. The approach is driven by insights derived from Marxist critical theory and the “new theology” associated with Bonhoeffer, Bultmann, and others. Acknowledging the secularized, religionless society Bonhoeffer had predicted in 1944, Schnebel argues that an authentic geistliche Musik has always been one driven by a secularizing dynamic, pressing beyond the walls of the church to engage a broken world of injustice and suffering. For him, the experimental avant-garde is fertile ground, since a music of the Spirit is a new, non-conformist music engaged in renewal. A translator’s introduction analyzes briefly the major components of Schnebel’s thought. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Music’s Role in Facilitating the Process of Healing—A Thematic Analysis
Religions 2017, 8(9), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8090184 - 10 Sep 2017
Abstract
This qualitative study aims to understand the factors motivating Korean migrants’ participation in weekly Charismatic Prayer Meetings in a Catholic Church. As music plays a crucial role in these meetings, the paper explores whether active engagement with music motivated the long-term commitment of [...] Read more.
This qualitative study aims to understand the factors motivating Korean migrants’ participation in weekly Charismatic Prayer Meetings in a Catholic Church. As music plays a crucial role in these meetings, the paper explores whether active engagement with music motivated the long-term commitment of participants to the meetings. The research is based on a thematic analysis of a focus group comprising six Korean adults living in Australia. Results show that music performed in religious forms such as Praise and Worship and Speaking/Singing in Tongues prayers was found to intensify spiritual experiences of the people as a group, and over time, each participant experienced improved physical and mental wellbeing, which in turn motivated further investment in the meetings. It was evident that the passionate group music-making enabled participants to focus on conscious and subconscious body, mind, and spirit, eliciting transpersonal experiences within each person. The findings of the current study are deemed relevant to this specific cohort and to others in similar contexts, where minority groups use worship and music for socio-cultural inclusion that addresses both spiritual and mental health issues. Though a small-scale study, the current paper provides a rationale for these religious groups to be involved in music-based spiritual practice. Full article
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