Biblical Concertos

Biblical Concertos April 12, 2019

The Milken Archive has been creating some wonderful online exhibits of Jewish music from across a range of time periods and in a range of genres. One that was particularly interesting to me was focused on concertos with biblical themes. Another recent exhibit featured the work of female composersanother female performers, and another suites. Even when I’m not able to teach my course on the Bible and music, I remain very interested in this topic, personally as well as professionally.

See also the recent article about redaction critical perspectives on the Song of Moses. The Bible and Interpretation also had an article that tackled head on the question, “Did Moses sing?”

Fred Clark discussed Adam and Eve musicals (among other things).

Jill Firth reviewed Singing God’s Psalms, a book by Fred R. Anderson whose contents I’ve shared with my class on the Bible and music in the session on metrical psalms.

The Land of Lost Content highlighted Edgar Bainton’s setting of a text from the Book of Revelation, “And I Saw a New Heaven.”

There is a call for papers about Esther and its reception that includes music.

Samantha Field shared an essay about theology and the black church which included a quote from Sara Bareilles’ song Eden.

Of related interest (including discussion of the tradition of black spirituals):

Learning to Lament from the Black Church (Jemar Tisby)

Jesus Creed has more on Tisby’s book. Matt Page blogged about Revival, a musical retelling of the story of Jesus. There was also an article on “The Spirit of Jesus in Trap music.”

Also related to biblical music is a post about a recent concert featuring choir and organ music much of which connects with the Bible in some way, another about a CD of choral music by Lincoln Choir, and another about sacred music by a British composer whose music I love, E. J. Moeran. And from the Religious Studies Project:

Melodies of Change: Music and Progressive Judaism

The role of Jews in preserving Persian music is at best indirectly connected to the theme of this post – but probably interesting to most who find this post interesting, even if only tangentially related!

Guard It With Your Life

And there was also an “Academic Minute” on music and efforts for social justice:

Bruce Campbell, Arcadia University – Music, Social Justice and Leadership

Let me also share a link to a hymn with lyrics focused on biblical social justice themes, courtesy of Sojourners. And Randall Rauser’s post about a hymn by Isaac Watts, the original lyrics of which we thankfully do not sing nowadays, but which need to be known because otherwise we might miss how much racism and colonialism are woven throughout our heritage, at a deeper level than slight word changes can eliminate.

Bob Cornwall had two blog posts about Walter Bruggeman’s book A Glad Obedience about what we sing as an expression of our faith. Bob MacDonald blogged about music and textual criticism.

Alas, I won’t be teaching my course on the Bible and music either this or next academic year. But I remain interested and will continue to be on the lookout for interesting articles, pieces of music, and the like.

From the Religious Studies Project:

When the Word is a Sound: Toward a Sensory Scholarship of Religion

How Translation Obscured the Music of The Bible

And finally, here’s a link to a video about ancient Greek music coming to life again, including both music and commentary on the reconstruction.


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