Christian Sacred Music in the Americas explores the richness of Christian musical traditions and reflects the distinctive critical perspectives of the Society for Christian Scholarship in Music. This volume, edited by Andrew Shenton and Joanna Smolko, is a follow-up to SCSM’s Exploring Christian Song and offers a cross-section of the most current and outstanding scholarship from an international array of writers.
The essays survey a broad geographical area and demonstrate the enormous diversity of music-making and scholarship within that area. Contributors utilize interdisciplinary methodologies including media studies, cultural studies, theological studies, and different analytical and ethnographical approaches to music. While there are some studies that focus on a single country, musical figure, or region, this is the first collection to represent the vast range of sacred music in the Americas and the different approaches to studying them in context.
Andrew Shenton is professor of music at Boston University. His research areas include music and transcendence, humor and religion, performance practice, and theology and the arts.
Joanna Smolko is an instructor at the University of Georgia. Her research areas include American popular music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, American sacred music, American folk music, and film music.
Introduction: Exploring Christian Sacred Music in the Americas
Andrew Shenton and Joanna Smolko
I. Liturgical Music
1. Liberation Theology: Affirmation and Homage in Three Brazilian Popular Masses
Cathy Ann Elias
2. The Guatemalan Choirbooks: Facilitating Preservation, Performance, and Study of the Colonial Repertoire
3. Sweet Harmonies of Praise: Reviving Shape Note Singing in Rural Arkansas
4. Hymns of Joyful Praise: Sacred Harp Singing in Athens, Georgia
5. The Hymn Tunes of Thomas Hastings
David W. Music
III. Contemporary Worship
6. ‘Evangélico e Brasileiro’: Brazil’s Alternative Christian Music Scene
Marcell Silva Steuernagel
7. Ethics, Justice, and Politics in Contemporary Worship Music
Jeff R. Warren
IV. Paraliturgical Music
8. ‘Resignation’ and Virgil Thomson’s Hymns from the Old South
9. “Rock of Ages: Images of Jesus in Popular Music.”
V. Diasporic Music
10. The Folk Scholarship Roots and Geopolitical Boundaries of Sacred Harp’s Global 21st Century
11. Anglican Diaspora: Episcopal Church Music in the Twenty First Century
VI. Indigenous and African American Music
12. ‘Woman, Arise and Speak’: Envisioning the Study of Indigenous Christian Song in Brazil
Andrew Janzen and Meiry Yakawa
13. From the Sun to the Son: How Christian Missionaries used Music to Evangelize the Choctaw People
14. Lift Every Voice and Sing: Embodying Black Theology in Song
Stephen Michael Newby and Chelle Stearns
Epilogue: Singing Worlds in the Americas
Admirable in its geographic reach and in its range of historical and ethnographic approaches, this volume offers a stimulating and welcome set of case studies that shed new light on areas of Christian sacred music that have not yet received the attention they deserve.
Christian Sacred Music in the Americas is a brilliantly interdisciplinary collection. The chapters coalesce to form a kaleidoscopic view—one that illuminates not only aspects of worship and spirituality but also of resistance, resilience, and reconciliation.
Refreshingly, this insightful volume expands the geographical frame from the typical focus on North America to "the Americas," weaving Central and South American perspectives into its rich tapestry of voices. It is an excellent addition to any sacred music or American music course.