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Congregational Music Studies Series

Congregational music-making is a vital and vibrant practice within Christian communities worldwide. Music can both unite and divide: at times, it brings together individuals and communities across geographical and cultural boundaries while, at others, it divides communities by embodying conflicting meanings and symbolizing oppositional identities. Many factors influence congregational music in its contemporary global context, posing theoretical and methodological challenges for the academic study of congregational music-making. Increasingly, coming to a robust understanding of congregational music's meaning, influence, and significance requires a mixture of complementary approaches. Including perspectives from musicology, religious and theological studies, anthropology and sociology of religion, media studies, political economy, and popular music studies, this series presents a cluster of landmark titles exploring music-making within contemporary Christianity which will further Congregational Music Studies as an important new academic field of study.
Black British Gospel Music
eds. Dulcie A. Dixon McKenzie, Pauline E. Muir, Monique M. Ingalls

Black British Gospel Music is a dynamic and multifaceted musical practice, a diasporic river rooted in the experiences of Black British Christian communities. This book examines gospel music in Britain in both historical and contemporary perspectives, demonstrating the importance of this this vital genre to scholars across disciplines. Drawing on a plurality of voices, the book examines the diverse streams that contribute to and flow out of this significant genre. Gospel can be heard resonating within a diverse array of Christian worship spaces; as a form of community music-making in school halls; and as a foundation for ‘secular’ British popular music, including R&B, hip hop and grime.

Hymns and Constructions of Race
eds. Erin Johnson-Williams, Philip Burnett

Hymns and Constructions of Race: Mobility, Agency, De/Coloniality examines how the hymn, historically and today, has reinforced, negotiated, and resisted constructions of race. It brings together diverse perspectives from musicology, ethnomusicology, theology, anthropology, performance studies, history, and postcolonial scholarship to show how the hymn has perpetuated, generated, and challenged racial identities. The global range of contributors cover a variety of historical and geographical contexts, with case studies from China and Brazil to Suriname and South Africa. They explore the hymn as a product of imperialism and settler colonialism and as a vehicle for sonic oppression and/or resistance, within and beyond congregational settings. The volume contends that the lived tradition of hymn-singing, with its connections to centuries of global Christian mission, is a particularly apt lens for examining both local and global negotiations of race, power, and identity. It will be relevant for scholars interested in religion, music, race, and postcolonialism.

Ethics and Christian Musicking
eds. Nathan Myrick, Mark Porter

The relationship between musical activity and ethical significance occupies long traditions of thought and reflection both within Christianity and beyond. From concerns regarding music and the passions in early Christian writings through to moral panics regarding rock music in the 20th century, Christians have often gravitated to the view that music can become morally weighted, building a range of normative practices and prescriptions upon particular modes of ethical judgment. But how should we think about ethics and Christian musical activity in the contemporary world? As studies of Christian musicking have moved to incorporate the experiences, agencies, and relationships of congregations, ethical questions have become implicit in new ways in a range of recent research - how do communities negotiate questions of value in music? How are processes of encounter with a variety of different others negotiated through musical activity? What responsibilities arise within musical communities? This volume seeks to expand this conversation. Divided into four sections, the book covers the relationship of Christian musicking to the body; responsibilities and values; identity and encounter; and notions of the self. The result is a wide-ranging perspective on music as an ethical practice, particularly as it relates to contemporary religious and spiritual communities. This collection is an important milestone at the intersection of ethnomusicology, musicology, religious studies and theology. It will be a vital reference for scholars and practitioners reflecting on the values and practices of worshipping communities in the contemporary world.

Church Music Through the Lens of Performance
Marcell Silva Steuernagel

This book is an investigation into church music through the lens of performance theory, both as a discipline and as a theoretical framework. Scholars who address religious music making in general, and Christian church music in particular, use "performance" in a variety of ways, creating confusion around the term. A systematized performance vocabulary for the study of church music can support interdisciplinary investigations of Christian congregational music making in today’s complex, interconnected world. From the perspective of performance theory, all those involved in church musicking are performing, be it from platform or pew. The book employs a hybrid methodology that combines ethnographic research and theory from ritual studies, ethnomusicology, theology, and church music scholarship to establish performance studies as a possible "next step" in church music studies. It demonstrates the feasibility of studying church music as performance by analyzing ethnographic case studies using a developmental framework based on the concepts of ritual, embodiment, and play/change. This book offers a fresh perspective on Christian congregational music making. It will, therefore, be a key reference work for scholars working in Congregational Music Studies, Ethnomusicology, Ritual Studies and Performance Studies, as well as practitioners interested in examining their own church music practices.

Studying Congregational Music: Key Issues, Methods, and Theoretical Perspectives
eds. Andrew Mall, Jeffers Engelhardt, Monique M. Ingalls

Studying the role of music within religious congregations has become an increasingly complex exercise. The significant variations in musical style and content between different congregations require an interdisciplinary methodology that enables an accurate analysis, while also allowing for nuance in interpretation. This book is the first to help scholars think through the complexities of interdisciplinary research on congregational music-making by critically examining the theories and methods used by leading scholars in the field. An international and interdisciplinary panel of contributors introduces readers to a variety of research methodologies within the emerging field of congregational music studies. Utilizing insights from fields such as communications studies, ethnomusicology, history, liturgical studies, popular music studies, religious studies, and theology, it examines and models methodologies and theoretical perspectives that are grounded in each of these disciplines. In addition, this volume presents several “key issues” to ground these interpretive frameworks in the context of congregational music studies. These include topics like diaspora, ethics, gender, and migration.This book is a new milestone in the study of music amongst congregations, detailing the very latest in best academic practice. As such, it will be of great use to scholars of religious studies, music, and theology, as well as anyone engaging in ethnomusicological studies more generally.

Cover image for Contemporary Worship Music and Everyday Musical Lives
Mark Porter

Whilst Contemporary Worship Music arose out of a desire to relate the music of the church to the music of everyday life, this function can quickly be called into question by the diversity of musical lives present in contemporary society. Mark Porter examines the relationship between individuals’ musical lives away from a Contemporary Worship Music environment and their diverse experiences of music within it, presenting important insights into the complex and sometimes contradictory relationships between congregants’ musical lives within and outside of religious worship.

Through detailed ethnographic investigation Porter challenges common evangelical ideals of musical neutrality, suggesting the importance of considering musical tastes and preferences through an ethical lens. He employs cosmopolitanism as an interpretative framework for understanding the dynamics of diverse musical communities, positioning it as a stronger alternative to common assimilationist and multiculturalist models.

Cover image for Making Congregational Music Local in Christian Communities Worldwide
eds.Monique M. Ingalls, Muriel Swijghuisen Reigersberg, Zoe C. Sherinian

What does it mean for music to be considered local in contemporary Christian communities, and who shapes this meaning? Through what musical processes have religious beliefs and practices once ‘foreign’ become ‘indigenous’? How does using indigenous musical practices aid in the growth of local Christian religious practices and beliefs? How are musical constructions of the local intertwined with regional, national or transnational religious influences and cosmopolitanisms? Making Congregational Music Local in Christian Communities Worldwide explores the ways that congregational music-making is integral to how communities around the world understand what it means to be ‘local’ and ‘Christian’. Showing how locality is produced, negotiated, and performed through music-making, this book draws on case studies from every continent that integrate insights from anthropology, ethnomusicology, cultural geography, mission studies, and practical theology. Four sections explore a central aspect of the production of locality through congregational music-making, addressing the role of historical trends, cultural and political power, diverging values, and translocal influences in defining what it means to be ‘local’ and ‘Christian’. This book contends that examining musical processes of localization can lead scholars to new understandings of the meaning and power of Christian belief and practice.

Cover image for Congregational Music-Making and Community in a Mediated Age
eds. Anna E. Nekola and Tom Wagner

Congregational music can be an act of praise, a vehicle for theology, an action of embodied community, as well as a means to a divine encounter. This multidisciplinary anthology approaches congregational music as media in the widest sense - as a multivalent communication action with technological, commercial, political, ideological, and theological implications, where processes of mediated communication produce shared worlds and beliefs. 

Bringing together a range of voices, promoting dialogue across a range of disciplines, each author approaches the topic of congregational music from his or her own perspective, facilitating cross-disciplinary connections while also showcasing a diversity of outlooks on the roles that music and media play in Christian experience. The authors break important new ground in understanding the ways that music, media, and religious belief and praxis become ‘lived theology’ in our media age, revealing the rich and diverse ways that people are living, experiencing, and negotiating faith and community through music.

Cover image for Congregational Music, Conflict and Community
Jonathan Dueck

The Worship Wars and the People of Peace is the first study of the music of the contemporary "worship wars"-conflicts over church music that continue to animate and divide Protestants today-to be based on long-term in-person observation and interviews. It tells the story of the musical lives of three Canadian Mennonite congregations at the height of these conflicts in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mennonites are among the most music-centered Christian groups in North America, and they felt the conflict deeply.

The congregations studied span the spectrum of the wars, from traditional to blended to contemporary worship styles, and from evangelical to liberal Protestant theologies. At their core, the book argues, worship wars are not fought in order to please congregants' musical taste nor to satisfy the theological principles held by a denomination. Instead, the relationships and meanings shaped through individuals’ experiences singing in the particular ways afforded by each style of worship are most profoundly at stake in the worship wars.

Cover image for Christian Congregational Music: Performance, Identity and Experience
eds. Monique Ingalls, Carolyn Landau, and Tom Wagner

Christian Congregational Music explores the role of congregational music in Christian religious experience, examining how musicians and worshippers perform, identify with and experience belief through musical praxis. Contributors from a broad range of fields, including music studies, theology, literature, and cultural anthropology, present interdisciplinary perspectives on a variety of congregational musical styles - from African American gospel music, to evangelical praise and worship music, to Mennonite hymnody - within contemporary Europe and North America. In addressing the themes of performance, identity and experience, the volume explores several topics of interest to a broader humanities and social sciences readership, including the influence of globalization and mass mediation on congregational music style and performance; the use of congregational music to shape multifaceted identities; the role of mass mediated congregational music in shaping transnational communities; and the function of music in embodying and imparting religious belief and knowledge. In demonstrating the complex relationship between ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ sounds and local and global identifications within the practice of congregational music, the plurality of approaches represented in this book, as well as the range of musical repertoires explored, aims to serve as a model for future congregational music scholarship.

Cover image for Ecclesial Practices

Special issue of Ecclesial Practices

The Autumn 2014 issue of Ecclesial Practices is a special issue, in partnership with us, dedicated to congregational music. Ecclesial Practices publishes articles and book reviews at the intersection of ethnographic and other qualitative approaches with theological approaches to the study of a variety of ecclesial practices and contexts of practice. Mark Porter's introductory article for the issue which describes the development of the field of Christian Congregational Music Studies can be read online free of charge here.