A Mandaean Song from San Antonio

It is amazing the things you find when your interests intersect in unusual ways. The American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting is in San Antonio this year, and that also happens to be the city with the largest Mandaean population in the United States. I was told that there is at [Read More…]

Hilding Rosenberg, Symphony No.4 “Johannes uppenbarelse”

A symphony based on and incorporating parts of the Revelation of John, as well as poems by Hjalmar Gullberg. Composed in the context of World War II and the expansion of the Nazis into Scandinavia. Just one of the ever-increasing number of pieces that I know will need to at least get a mention in my course [Read More…]

Random Churches of Rome 1: Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater

Some of the most delightful moments in my exploring Rome this summer were unscripted moments when I happened to be passing a church and decided to enter. Sometimes I found incredible works of art. Once I found a performance going on of Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater, in the Sant’Andrea della Valle church in Piazza Vidoni. Having come in [Read More…]

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Authentic Power and Gentleness: A Meeting With Pēteris Vasks

A piece that I wrote for the Latvian national music organization back in 2004 vanished from the internet at some point. I recently discovered that I still had the text of the piece in an e-mail, and so I thought I would share it here.   Authentic Power and Gentleness: A Meeting With Pēteris Vasks Last week I [Read More…]

Psalm Songs

As I prepare to teach a course on the Bible and music in the Spring for the first time, I am on the lookout for new and/or interesting music at the intersection of the two. And so I am grateful to Abram Kielsmeier-Jones for sharing these bluegrass settings of the Psalms by The Corner Room: [Read More…]

The Same Four Chords (in Music and Religion)

The above video is a fun illustration of something that is well-known to musicians but which sometimes surprises others: music recycles the same notes, chords, and intervals constantly. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Music is, after all, a kind of language, and in language we are not for the most part inventing new words, but using words that [Read More…]

Jacob and the Angel for Piano and Orchestra

I expect that I will be using Max Stern’s books about Bible and Music and Psalms and Music in connection with my course on the Bible and Music in the Spring. Stern is a composer, and not only is his piece exploring the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel interesting musically, but the expanded retelling [Read More…]

Hostile to Art?

I thought there were some interesting thoughts in a recent article interviewing Billy Smiley, formerly of the band White Heart and now of The Union of Sinners and Saints: Faith and spirituality can barely survive religion. Imagine how tough it is for art… I listen to Christian music now and ask, “Where are the poets? [Read More…]

On The Edge of the Infinite

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Religious Studies for Business Students

To mark the occasion of my first visit to Rome, I thought I would share the above cartoon. It illustrates one of the practical reasons why something like the study of religion might not be as irrelevant for entrepreneurs as is sometimes claimed. In fact, I had this confirmed to me recently when my colleague [Read More…]


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