Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Reading List for Music in Worship

I am preparing to teach my first collegiate course in the subject I have lived for three decades: Music in Worship. So now I take three decades of attention, and shelves of reading, and pare it down to a “reasonable” Reading List for undergraduate seniors and seminary students. This is a bit like answering the question, “What is your favorite hymn?” Well now, that depends, doesn’t it! So many to choose from, and context is everything.

Music in Worship will meet as a seminar for three hours on Monday nights. Undergrads will read up to 100 pages per week; seminary students a little more. We will spend four weeks on basic definitions (worship, liturgy, church music, congregational song), eight weeks on historical matters (biblical times through today), then have three weeks of symposia (hermeneutics, history, and culture). In the final class meeting students will present, defend, and lead the class through their designs of a musical segment of public worship.

The Reading List

  • Begbie, Jeremy S. Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
  • Block, Daniel A. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2014.
  • Dowley, Tim. Christian Music: A Global History. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011.
  • Pinsor, J. Matthew, ed. Perspectives on Worship: Five Views. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2009.
Dan Block’s book is to be released just in time for us to use this semester. His comprehensive view of worship, and his thorough treatment of biblical materials, makes this a must-have book in this discipline. Dowley’s Christian Music provides a chronological and global look at music and the Church. Pinsor’s Perspectives sticks with evangelical practice (appropriate for TIU and the students who will take this course), and puts the five practitioners in dialogue with each other. Begbie’s philosophical, historical, and theological reading of music is something that students (and worship leaders, and pastors) ought to be aware of and grapple with.
            In addition to these, seminary students will also be required to read the following, and to work through the question of whether or how music gives insight into theology:

  • Begbie, Jeremy S. and Steven R. Guthrie, eds. Resonant Witness: Conversations between Music and Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011. 

From the following titles students will select one book to read on their own.

  • Best, Harold M. Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts. Downers Grove: IVP, 2003.
  • Best, Harold M. Music Through the Eyes of Faith. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
  • Brown, Frank Burch. Inclusive Yet Discerning: Navigating Worship Artfully. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.
  • Day, Thomas. Why Catholics Can’t Sing: The Culture of Catholicism and the Triumph of Bad Taste. New York: Crossroad, 1993.
  • Gordon, T. David. Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010.
  • Hustad, Donald P. Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal. Carol Stream: Hope Publishing, 1993.
  • Johansson, Calvin. Music and Ministry: A Biblical Counterpoint. 2nd edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998.
  • Jones, Paul S. Singing and Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006.
  • Kidd, Reggie. With One Voice: Discovering Christ’s Song in Our Worship. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.
  • Myers, Kenneth A. All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture. Wheaton: Crossway, 1989. (2012 with new Introduction by the author)
  • Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture. New York: Harper & Row, 1951. (2001 edition by HarperCollins) with (or without) Carson, Donald A. Christ and Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008. Recommended reading for seminary students. I do not want them to read Carson without reading Niebuhr first.
  • O’Donnell, Douglas Sean. God’s Lyrics: Rediscovering Worship Through Old Testament Songs. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2010.
This list is more clearly weighted to reflect my personal/professional/pastoral concerns, and I don’t apologize for that. (The list will almost certainly be changed, if not abridged, before the syllabus goes to print.) I will give the students a prĂ©cis of each item on the list so they can choose according to their interests, questions, or taste. This course is designed to get students to wrestle with the issues of music in worship. The following semester course in worship is much more practical and focused on worship resources of all kinds.

There are still many books that I would like students to know about and read. But I have to remember that I’ve been at this a long time, and they are just getting started!