Songs of Solidarity: A New Approach to Liturgical Music and Community Cohesion
AuthorsJohnson, Matthew E.
AffiliationInstitute for Christian Studies
Music and philosophy
Smith, James K. A.
Bible. Psalm 136
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AbstractIn this paper, I will focus on a single type of music used in a religious setting, namely congregational song, which I will broadly refer to as “liturgical music.” Though liturgical music in the context of Christian community serves a variety of functions for community participants, this paper will focus on two major functions liturgical music plays in the way it facilitates community coherence: (1) it connects participants via embodied empathetic imagination to a particular defining narrative or mythology, and (2) it connects participants via co-performance directly to one another. I will suggest that liturgical art in religious community is actually a constitutive force in that community, having the capability of illuminating and affirming the communal identity shared by the participants. Participation in liturgical music is a way of actively shaping the community as a community, re-telling together a deeply held defining mythology in the context of the present world and creating a shared moment of co-performance in which participants enter into true face-to-face relationships with one another. Finally, I will illustrate how these functions may play out in a religious community through an analysis of Psalm 136’s content and use in ancient Israelite liturgy.
CitationJohnson, Matthew E. "Songs of Solidarity: A New Approach to Liturgical Music and Community Cohesion" (paper presented at the 20th Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference (AGIC), Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, March 6, 2014).
DescriptionThis paper won 2nd place in the Concordia University Religion Department's Annual Graduate Conference, In/Tangibility: The Mystical, The Material and the Messy In-Between.
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