Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music

Overview

Nearly all religious traditions have reserved a special place for sacred music. Whether it is music accompanying a ritual or purely for devotional purposes, music composed for entire congregations or for the trained soloist, or music set to holy words or purely instrumental, in some form or another, music is present. In fact, in some traditions the relation between the music and the ritual is so intimate that to distinguish between them would be inaccurate. The Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music covers the ...

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Overview

Nearly all religious traditions have reserved a special place for sacred music. Whether it is music accompanying a ritual or purely for devotional purposes, music composed for entire congregations or for the trained soloist, or music set to holy words or purely instrumental, in some form or another, music is present. In fact, in some traditions the relation between the music and the ritual is so intimate that to distinguish between them would be inaccurate. The Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music covers the most important aspects of the sacred music of Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and other smaller religious groups. It provides useful information on all the significant traditions of this music through the use of a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, appendixes, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on major types of music, composers, key religious figures, specialized positions, genres of composition, technical terms, instruments, fundamental documents and sources, significant places, and important musical compositions.

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Editorial Reviews

Dr. Melvin P. Unger
This book has much to offer the amateur and specialist alike, providing a large body of factual information with illuminating introductions and overviews that contextualize the material.
CHOICE
Highly recommended.
vol. 38 (2007) American Reference Books Annual
...valuable....
Dr. Steven E. Plank
Joseph Swain impressively documents the people, places, concepts, and repertory intertwined in the history of religious music. The net he casts is wide; the trove is rich. Clerics, church musicians, and students alike will find it a congenial companion.
Choice
Highly recommended.
American Reference Books Annual (ARBA)
...valuable....
Reference and Research Book News
Accessible to students, general readers, and musicians and composers, this dictionary includes terms associated with the sacred music of Christianity and Judaism, with some related to Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and other religions. Entries are on traditions, documents, religious figures such as Martin Luther, writers, publishers, places, genres like the mass, terms such as alleluia, and compositions such as The Creation. Famous composers with little sacred output are only briefly discussed, and performers and scholars are omitted. Some knowledge of musical vocabulary and religious practices is assumed. Appendices contain texts and translations of the Roman Catholic rites, the Shema, and the Kaddish. Swain, a music critic, is a former music history and theory teacher at Phillips Academy and Colgate U.
Fontes Artis Musicae
A compact, ecumenical dictionary....This title is highly recommended for anyone with even a cursory interest in the topic—it takes up minimal shelf space is fairly inexpensive. Additionally, the musical and cultural coverage makes it indispensible for libraries.
Library Journal
As the title suggests, Swain's (music history & theory, Phillips Acad., Colgate Univ.) work is a dictionary of traditions, people, places, terms, and documents that relate to sacred music throughout history. It is mostly about Western Christendom but also covers Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, and some forms of Shamanism. A third of the entries is biographical (composers, religious leaders, publishers), a third addresses music (forms, compositions), and the remainder examines documents, sources, institutions, and more. An informative and well-written introductory essay deals with the concept and history of sacred music. Appendix A features the Latin and English versions of some texts of the Roman Catholic services (Mass Ordinary, canticles, and some Marian antiphons), while Appendix B presents the Shemaand Kaddishin Hebrew and English. The extensive bibliography contains both general histories and specific studies by subject matter and era, including discographies and web sites, and there is a handy chronology of significant events in the history of religious music beginning in 1000 B.C.E.
—Timothy J. McGee
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Joseph P. Swain has taught music history and theory at Phillips Academy and Colgate University for more than 25 years. He writes music criticism and critical theory and performs regularly as church organist, violist, and choir director.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Foreword Part 2 Preface Part 3 Chronology Part 4 Introduction Part 5 THE DICTIONARY Part 6 Appenidx A: Texts of the Roman Catholic Rites Part 7 Appendix B: Shema and Kaddish Part 8 Bibliography Part 9 About the Author

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