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Music as Prayer The Theology and Practice of Church Music



Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press

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Music as Prayer explores the spiritual and theological character of church music. Author Thomas H. Troeger--a theologian, preacher, poet and flutist-traces how making and listening to music can be an act of prayer, a way of sensing the irrepressible resilience of the divine vitalities, in down-to-earth language that everyone can enjoy. The book employs a wide range of perspectives: from scientific observations about the effect of music on the brain, to the insights of early church fathers about the place of music in worship, to the compositions of great composers and their reflections upon their art, to the Bible and theologians, to organists, choir directors and instrumentalists, to hymnists and poets. Listening to the wisdom of these varied tribes, Troeger finds them to be a cloud of witnesses, a choir giving testimony to how music puts the human heart in touch with the spirit in times of sorrow and seeking, in times of joy and gratitude.

The book is addressed to listeners and performers alike, instrumentalists and singers, clergy and seminarians, worship committees and congregation members, scholars and teachers of liturgy and sacred music. It helps musicians and clergy to develop a mutual understanding of the theological and spiritual dimensions of their collaborative work. As a whole, the book celebrates the ministry of making music that awakens people to those gifts of the spirit that sustain hope, promote healing, and enliven a visionary faith in the possibility of a transformed world.

Author Biography

Thomas H. Troeger studied to become a flutist but under the impact of a great preacher, he decided to prepare for the ministry. A pastor for seven years, he then began teaching homiletics, hymnody, and liturgics. His scholarship has focused on the role of the imagination in preaching and worship, and his creative work includes hymns and lyric poems.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Don E. Saliers


Music and the Making of Meaning
Music and Metaphor
When the World Falls Apart
Salutary Harmonies
The Great Mighty Ocean Tone
Plucked from the Universe
The Deeper Meaning of Inspiring Music
The Whole Company of Musicians
Church Organist Declared Greatest Composer
How Do You Sing Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus?
To What End Beauty?
The Materiality of Making Music

The Stone Age Ancestors of Organists
Music that Can Never Be Recorded
The Piece You Thought You Would Never Play
How Beautiful and Astounding Are the Feet
The Freedom of Constraint
Silence as the Prelude to Sound
The Rhetoric of Breath
Before the First Note: Getting Centered
Wrong Notes in a Splendid Performance
Music and the Landscape of the Soul

Study Tour of the Human Soul
Musical Hometown
An Antidote to Cognitive Imperialism
The Necessity of Beauty
Children of Process
Escaping the Hubris of the Present Moment
The Perfect Registration
Music for Facing Temptation and Wild Beasts
Season of Lament
Unacknowledged Healing
Plain and Simple, Rich and Complex
A Gigue for Everyone to Dance

Music for the Seasons of Faith
Waiting as Blessing
Rehearsing for an Epiphany
A New Song for Christmas?
Song that Blesses Earth
New Year's Resolution: Not Exactly as the Composer Wanted
Music Born of Resurrection

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