The Story of Christian Music: From Gregorian Chant to Black Gospel : an Authoritative Illustrated Guide to All the Major Traditions of Music for Worship

By Andrew Wilson-Dickson | Go to book overview

Chapter 42


The Bible in the Concert Hall

Messiaen's achievement in bringing Christian meditation into the concert-hail is really nothing new—oratorios and Mass-settings still sustain a tradition, now more than 300 years old, of bringing such music into secular surroundings. Unfortunately, the church this century has shown little inclination to support composers of high art—especially where their style is challenging or uncompromising.

An era which has enmeshed millions in two world wars and which has seen some of the worst atrocities ever committed against humanity has extracted a powerful reaction from its artists. Many musical works, while not commissioned or even recognized by the church, have a spiritual depth virtually absent from the repertoire of the previous century which did receive ecclesiastical support. On the one hand, George Bernard Shaw, writing in England in the early 1890s, could remark with partial truth that

with the exception of a few cantatas of
Mendelssohn, all the Biblical music of
this [nineteenth] century might be burnt
without leaving the world any poorer.1

On the other hand, the church in the twentieth century has taken little part in what has turned out to be a renaissance in concert music of spiritual or Christian challenge. The composer John Joubert has written:

It is a pitiful comment on the musical
awareness of our church authorities that
only in 1958 was Benjamin Britten invited
to conduct a work of his own at a Three
Choirs Festival. And William Walton's
oratorioBelshazzar's Feasthad to wait
twenty-five years before being included
in the same Festival programmes—long
after It had been accepted everywhere
else in the country.2

Edward Elgar In his
favourite Malvern Hills.
Elgar is not normally
thought of as a religious
composer, but his oratorio
'The Dream of Gerontius',
set to a poem by John Henry
Newman, Is a powerful
expression of Christian
hope.

At the very beginning of the century in England, Edward Elgar (1857–1934) set to music an extended poem by the English Catholic and former Tractarian, Cardinal Newman. The Dream of Gerontius (1900) immediately put the artistic standards of the English oratorio onto a quite different plane from the 'religious' music that Shaw loved to hate. This was the work of which Elgar said: 'I have allowed my heart to open once'3 and undoubtedly the emotional intensity which accompanies the spiritual journey of the poem is unprecedented in British music and has

-219-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Story of Christian Music: From Gregorian Chant to Black Gospel : an Authoritative Illustrated Guide to All the Major Traditions of Music for Worship
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 256

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.