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Singing and the Imagination of Devotion

Vocal Aesthetics in Early English Protestant Culture

Studies in Christian History and Thought

by Susan Tara Brown

Imprint: Wipf and Stock

150 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.30 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781606083147
  • Published: December 2008

$19.00 / £15.00

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  • Hardcover
  • 9781498252775
  • Published: December 2008

$37.00 / £28.00

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Using early Anglican and Puritan sources, Singing and the Imagination of Devotion poses questions about the meaning and significance of singing during a seminal period in English culture. While early modern England witnessed many political, cultural and artistic upheavals, it also produced a substantive body of devotional music, ranging in complexity from simple psalm tunes to sophisticated art songs. Controversialists wrangled over the appropriate role of singing in worship at the same time that writers of 'affectionate divinity' gloried in the beauty of Christ and traced the workings of the inner landscape. Period accounts indicate that singing played a vital role in this devotional life, and was specifically cultivated as a means to impress the soul with Christian truths and lead believers to a state of 'heavenly-mindedness'. Singing became viewed as a spiritual balm, kindler of religious passion, and the ultimate embodiment of an innocent and wholesome sensuality. In examining a body of devotional literature which has been neglected by music historians, Brown discerns an aesthetic of singing and vocal expression which has ramifications today.
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