Academic journal article The Hymn

Sacred Sound: Experiencing Music in World Religions

Academic journal article The Hymn

Sacred Sound: Experiencing Music in World Religions

Article excerpt

Sacred Sound: Experiencing Music in World Religions edited by Guy L. Beck. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006. 245 pp. ISBN: 0-88920-421-7. U.S. $39.95.

Although this book is not by any means primarily about hymnody, I bring it to your attention because it is a unique textbook. The editor states in the Introduction: "Attempting to reveal and reinforce the vital interconnection between religious studies and music, this book-the first of its kind-aims to provide an introductory survey on the important role of music and chant in six of the world's great religious: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism." Guy L. Beck provides an illuminating introduction that reminds us of music's important numinous role in religious practice, universally. He states at the outset: "It was apparent to me that group performances of sacred songs or hymns consolidated various human communities into a religious world of their own, reinforcing identities and boundaries as if by some mysterious thread." I especially like the term, "sonic theology," originally coined by the editor for his book on music in Hinduism. Beck naturally provides the chapter on "Hinduism and Music." The other chapters and their authors are: "Judaism and Music" (Joseph A. …

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