Sacred Song in America: Religion, Music, and Public Culture

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $9.12
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 75%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $9.12   
  • New (4) from $35.33   
  • Used (4) from $9.11   



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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252028007
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Series: Public Express Religion America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet 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.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: What Is Sacred Song? 1

Part 1 Great Traditions of American Sacred Song

1 Songway: Sacred-Song Traditions of Native America 17

2 Pilgrimage and Penitence: Sacred-Song Traditions of the Hispanic Southwest 39

3 Sacred Harp Singing: Continuity and Change in the American Singing-School Tradition 68

4 "Is It Going to Save Someone?": The Black Church at Song 100

5 Klezmorim and Sephardim: The Jewish Music Revival 130

Part 2 Sacred Song and Contemporary American Religion

6 New Music of the Spheres: From the New Age to Neo-Paganism 163

7 Contested Praise: A Tale of Two Hymnals 184

8 Mormons and Music: Maintaining and Mainstreaming Sectarian Identity 213

9 Troubadour for the Lord: Catholic Charismatics and Sacred Song 239

10 The Conservatory Tradition: Interviews with Daniel Pinkham and Neely Bruce 264

11 Gospel Music: Sacred Song and the Marketplace 296

Conclusion: American Sacred Song and the Meaning of Religious Culture 321

Appendix: Music Examples 331

Index of Titles and First Lines 377

Index of Names and Subjects 383

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)