Sacred Song in America

Religion, Music, and Public Culture
Author: Stephen A. Marini
Exploring sacred song as an integral element of religious culture in America
Cloth – $95
978-0-252-02800-7
Paper – $32
978-0-252-07803-3
Publication Date: Cloth: 2003; Paper: 2011
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About the Book

In Sacred Song in America, Stephen A. Marini explores the full range of American sacred music and demonstrates how the meanings and functions of this musical expression can contribute to a greater understanding of religious culture.

Marini examines the role of sacred song across the United States, from the musical traditions of Native Americans and the Hispanic peoples of the Southwest, to the Sacred Harp singers of the rural South and the Jewish music revival to the music of the Mormon, Catholic, and Black churches. Including chapters on New Age and Neo-Pagan music, gospel music, and hymnals as well as interviews with iconic composers of religious music, Sacred Song in America pursues a historical, musicological, and theoretical inquiry into the complex roles of ritual music in the public religious culture of contemporary America.

About the Author

Stephen A. Marini is Elisabeth Luce Moore Professor of Christian Studies and a professor of American religion and ethics at Wellesley College. He is the author of Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England.

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Reviews

"A unique and compelling contribution to American cultural history."--The Antioch Review

"The breadth of Marini's study is staggering . . . Marini's solid contribution to the all-too-sparse number of works that recognize the rich contribution of American sacred music promises to spur a number of academic studies and thereby enrich the future of historiography and understanding of American culture."--Journal of Southern Religion

"A deeply reflective text, layered with multiple literary and musical references. . . . an excellent text for the classroom. Marini is able to draw many strands of influence together as he explains each musical tradition with ease and clarity."--Journal of the NABPR

"A wealth of information as well as readable, thought-provoking interpretations. . . . Marini has produced a volume of value for those interested in American religion and music as well as for specialists in cultural history."--Theology Today

"We owe Marini deep thanks for this unusual study. He offers compelling insights into the nature of our public religion, what moves us, how secularity and sacrality intertwine. . . . Marini's book also helps church musicians to think carefully about their powerful role in religious communities and to understand their enormous responsibility in leading those communities in song."--Cross Accent

"This book provides rich descriptions of many varieties of sacred music that have evolved in America over the last three hundred years."--Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly

Blurbs

“This unusually fine and important book has no parallel. I know of no other book on American religious music with as wide a sweep. As a historian of American religion, and as a student and practitioner of sacred music, Marini is simply and utterly unique.”--Harvey Cox, Thomas Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School and the author of The Secular City and Fire from Heaven

“Enlightening, well informed, and sophisticated. I know of nothing like it.”--Richard Crawford, author of America’s Musical Life: A History