A Study of Christadelphian Hymnody: singing with the spirit and with the understanding. (Honours thesis, 2000)
25000 words 1 volume with accompanying cd of example works
The purpose of this study is to examine and define what is considered to be sacred music in Christadelphian worship by comparing Christadelphian ideas about music with the actual practice of music as demonstrated in written historical sources and in contemporary performance practices. Christadelphian music is made up of mainly hymns, anthems, psalms and contemporary songs. An expression that Christadelphians favour in describing how music is to be used is taken from the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 14 verse 15: “to sing with the spirit and to sing with the understanding”. This is a Christadelphian ideal that has been used to justify many editorial decisions and performance practices. Up to ninety percent of the music used has been sourced from other religions, but the Christadelphians have adapted the pieces to suit their purposes. At various times, fourteen different hymn books have been developed for use in English speaking countries, with some being accepted and some rejected for social and religious reasons.
In the first seven chapters, the history of the various hymnals are outlined, including issues that arose in the publication of these and how they were used in the community. The eighth chapter examines views on music that have been published separately to the views contained in the hymn book prefaces and how music is used today in Christadelphianism. The thesis follows the history of Christadelphian hymns, including where hymns have been borrowed from, as well as the music and text of Christadelphian origins. This history is presented in light of the development of Christadelphian society and how certain religious values affect the choice and presentation of their music, including performance practices. Indexes with hymn text and tune headings are provided in the appendix of all Christadelphian compositions published and can be cross referenced with each other. Finally all issues presented in this thesis are linked to the Christadelphian ideal of singing with the spirit and understanding to show how this is practiced in current congregations.
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