The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities

PDF The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities Illustrated Edition

Book author
  1. Jonathan M. Dueck
  2. Suzel Ana Reily
51O15OKeGzL SX341 BO1204203200

The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities investigates music's role in everyday practice and social history across the diversity of Christian religions and practices around the globe. The volume explores Christian communities in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia as sites of transmission, transformation, and creation of deeply diverse musical traditions.

The book's contributors, while mostly rooted in ethnomusicology, examine Christianities and their musics in methodologically diverse ways, engaging with musical sound and structure, musical and social history, and ethnography of music and musical performance. These broad materials explore five themes: music and missions, music and religious utopias (and other oppositional religious communities), music and conflict, music and transnational flows, and music and everyday life. The volume as a whole, then, approaches Christian groups and their musics as diverse and powerful windows into the way in which music, religious ideas, capital, and power circulate (and change) between places, now and historically. It also tries to take account of the religious self-understandings of these groups, presenting Christian musical practice and exchange as encompassing and negotiating deeply felt and deeply rooted moral and cultural values. Given that the centerpiece of the volume is Christian religious musical practice, the volume reveals the active role music plays in maintaining and changing religious, moral, and cultural values in a long history of intercultural and transnational encounters.


A volume of this size can only be completed with the assistance and support of many people, far too many to be named individually. First and foremost I thank Jonathan Dueck for all the time and dedication he put into getting this collection from an idea to an actual material item; without his unending enthusiasm, positivity, and understanding, it is difficult to see how this book could have ever become reality. Alongside all I gained from our joint discussions, his cordial and human way of dealing with everyone involved in the project was certainly one of the greatest lessons over the years. Thanks also to all the contributors for joining us in this endeavor, for their prompt responses, and for their patience throughout the production process. The project also received the support of a number of institutions, most notably Queen’s University Belfast; I also thank The Tinker Fellowship Fund, The University of Chicago, The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at Norwich University, Ripon College Cuddesdon, and Georgetown University, which provided opportunities for the discussion of themes related to this volume. I have also discussed issues related to the ethnomusicology of Christianity with a number of colleagues, and in various guises these conversations have left traces in the volume; in particular I thank Fiona Magowan, Jennifer Sinnamon, Glaura Lucas, Elizabeth Travassos, Katherine Brucher, Ioannis Tsioulakis, Evanthia Patsiaoura, and also my father, the late church historian Duncan Alexander Reily, and my sisters Lucia Reily and Celia Reily Rocha. I also wish to thank the OUP team involved in the volume over the years, particularly Suzanne Ryan, Lisbeth Redfield, and Janish Ashwin Paul; their support has ensured this volume made it to publication. The unfaltering love and understanding of my husband, Toninho, has been crucial to keeping my feet on the ground and helping me to never forget what really matters.

Like Jonathan, I too hope you find this book useful and engaging.


From Western European common practice to a panoply of modal musics, from highly professional cathedral choirs and orchestras to the millions of amateur singing groups, from the processional bands and pilgrims’ chants to the guitars and “new music” of revivals and youth camps, and from the folias de reis and congados of Brazilian vernacular Catholicism to Christian p’ansori in Korea, across the ages Christian worship has resonated to a diversity of musical sounds and styles. Wherever Christianity has established roots, it has become a locus of musical expression. The sounds of the world’s Christianities articulate historical connections as well as disjunctures, joining and dividing Christian communities across the globe.

This volume investigates the role of these diverse musics in the construction, circulation, experience, and practice of world Christianities. From its very emergence, a universalism within Christianity has pushed it outward across the world, particularly through mission work. Christian doctrine, however, has never traveled by itself; it has always been accompanied by its associated aesthetic and expressive forms and practices. Because of its potential to encourage collective communal activity, music has frequently served as a central pillar in the work of religious conversion, but it has also been crucial in sustaining Christian communities and to marking and making relations among Christians.

By studying Christian repertoires, new ways to characterize and nuance the movements and mixtures of world Christianities are made possible. This is because music is accessible as a circulating set of texts and practices that powerfully present ritual, theology, and identity logics in what are often experience-rich settings. Perhaps more profoundly, musical practices can also connect actors in different cultural and geographic locations, presenting a space of shared intimacy even when symbolic understandings of those practices diverge. In other words, the possibilities music has historically
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