Bible and Music Update

Bible and Music Update October 11, 2020

Time for another round-up of things related to the Bible and music that I’ve come across, always having my eyes and ears peeled for points of intersection as I work on an open textbook on the topic.

Let me start with Jonathan Tweet’s helpful survey of antisemitic aspects of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The main disagreement I have is with the idea that “Judas” denoted or signified “Jew.” The name in question is Judah, the Jewish name that was that of the ancestor and tribe that gave its name to what English renders as “the Jewish people.” It was a common and popular name among Jews, and despite what some commentators have said at times, there was nothing antisemitic when ancient Jewish authors depicted the betrayal of the Jewish man Jesus as having been carried out by someone with a common Jewish name who was no more and no less Jewish than any other apostle or disciple. The musical is only as antisemitic as its source material, I think. What do others think? Take a look at Jonathan’s treatment of the subject and let me (and him) know what your thoughts on this are.

Sungji Hong has composed a beautiful setting of the Lord’s Prayer as well as what must be the most striking setting of the Nunc Dimittis I’ve ever heard:

Others of her works, including several instrumental ones, also have titles that are drawn from biblical texts or at least echo biblical themes.

See also:

Performing Psalms of Lament (HT Ekaterini Tsalampouni)

Rediscovering the Psalms: A Revival of the Bible’s Prayer Book

The Psalms as Christian Praise

Psalms in the Discovering Biblical Texts series

The End of the Psalter

From Kate Keefe:

Psalm as folk song

Archangels, guardian angels, and their Psalms

Church as bride

Mood music: Setting the tone for Psalm 68-69

Writing a tune for God’s anger

From Bob MacDonald:

A whole host of documents from Suzanne Haik-Vantoura

New music based on the Haik-Vantoura key

Approaching music using translated lyrics

One example of puzzling over a particular case in a psalm

Translating Psalm 78

The feudal system of accents

The letters and the accents (not an introduction)

Unpointing the Hebrew text

Naming things

I was happy to discover Durrell Bowman’s blog, where he shares things like this:

Not Just for Praise or Proselytizing: Sociopolitical Critiques in Christian Hard Rock and New Wave, 1977-84

Inclusive Hymn Rewrite Challenge

Commonplace Book #182

Not biblical music, but still perhaps of interest, is this Sojourners piece about Sufjan Stevens’ latest album. Think Christian also has a post about it.

Even less directly related, back when I hoped to develop a study abroad experience to Transylvania, I was exploring ways to incorporate the music of the region into the course. Here are some things I came across then…

Gypsy musicians of Transylvania

The music of Zmei3

A history of Hungarian music that includes church music, another site about Hungarian folk music, a website in Geneva with an archive of historic Hungarian recordings (not always of Hungarian music).

Also somewhat related, courtesy of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir: “Sing with the Larks – a Primer for video recordings in virtual choirs”


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