Academic journal article The Hymn

Singing the Church's Song: Essays and Occasional Writings on Church Music

Academic journal article The Hymn

Singing the Church's Song: Essays and Occasional Writings on Church Music

Article excerpt

Singing the Church's Song: Essays and Occasional Writings on Church Music CARL SCHALK. MINNEAPOLIS, MN: LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2015. ISBN 978-1-942304-06-7. $20.00.

Carl Schalk is and has been one of the leading voices in Lutheran church music for more than half a century. Singing the Church's Song is a collection, as indicated in the subtitle, of essays and other writings on church music that span the entirety of Schalk's distinguished and highly influential career. The book is organized into five sections: Music as the Church's Song, Music in Liturgical Worship, The Lutheran Heritage of Hymnody, The Role of the Composer, and Meditations and Homilies.

While Schalk's point of view is always unapologetically Lutheran and, more specifically, of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, the clarity of his thought, the soundness and depth of his theological arguments and his consistently bold defense of quality and purpose for music in and of the church makes the appeal of this volume much wider than simply within Lutheran circles. For those unfamiliar with Lutheran thinking in terms of the use of music in worship, this is a superb starting point. For those looking for arguments in defense of excellence and substance in music for worship, Schalk's thinking provides ample, sound advice.

Certain themes arise repeatedly in the course of the book, a necessary evil in a collection of essays on a comparatively narrow set of topics. What is fascinating to observe is the consistency of Schalk's thinking in a set of essays dating from the early, heady days of Vatican II through the troubled 70's, the flood of praise music in the 80's and 90's and the current millennial era of a church in decline. Through it all, Schalk retains his prophetic call even when he knows he faces wilderness. His faith in good liturgy accompanied by good music is absolute. …

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