Cover image for The music of angels : a listener's guide to sacred music from chant to Christian rock
The music of angels : a listener's guide to sacred music from chant to Christian rock
Kavanaugh, Patrick.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Loyola Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 334 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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ML3000 .K44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This popular guide to Christian music is a must-have for any music lover. Tracing the development of Christian music in its cultural context, each chapter includes a recommended listening list and sidebars that highlight important musicians, influential works, and musical styles. Perfect for the beginner looking for a handbook to illuminate the roots of sacred music but also of interest to the advanced listener who can use this as a reference guide.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Collins accords 65 gospel songs the same treatment he gave Disco Duck and Other Adventures in Novelty Music (1998). Perhaps only two, "Amazing Grace" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," began as hymns, and the former had to acquire an American folk melody before it succeeded "We Shall Overcome" (not one of the 65, by the way) as the world's most famous devotional ditty. The preponderance of the rest are commercial creations, meant to be spread by broadcasting and recording, and they resemble demotic pop forms (rock, blues, and country songs) structurally. Some made their original performers famous, as "Great Speckled Bird" did Roy Acuff, and some were made famous by certain performers, such as "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" by Ethel Waters. As inspirational as the songs themselves are the stories Collins, making no bones about tugging heartstrings, tells about them. In Kavanaugh's book, the gospel song occupies just one chapter near the end, for Kavanaugh succinctly traces all Christian music, beginning with the Hebrew and Greek roots of early Christian musical worship, from which sprang the chant. Thereafter, Kavanaugh represents Christian music as developing in three "streams." The first is classical; its music is highly wrought and demands performance by trained musicians for a listening audience. The second is popular, arising with the Reformation and producing the huge hymn literature; its music is simple and accessible formally and is congregationally performed. The third stream arose with recording and broadcasting and, though aping the performer-audience relationship of classical music, used the simple forms of folk and commercial pop music. Kavanaugh writes about music with maximal clarity for nonmusicians. He makes many specific recording recommendations, concludes each chapter with a short list of essential compositions of the period or style covered, profiles important composers and performers in sidebars--in short, he provides a real godsend on the subject. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

Kavanaugh (The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers), director of the Christian Performing Artists' Fellowship and an ordained minister, has experienced sacred music in a variety of settings. In this short, easy-to-read history and guide, intended primarily for the Christian lay reader, Kavanaugh examines sacred Christian music of Western civilization, focusing on the interconnections among genres. His book is divided into three main chronological sections: C.E. 1-1600, 1600-1900, and 1900-present. Each chapter contains "Quick Takes," that is, short essays on recommended recordings and biographical summaries of important figures from each period. Kavanaugh also provides a well-written overview of contemporary Christian music and an interesting afterword in which he muses on the future of sacred music. Recommended for church and large public libraries.ÄKathleen Sparkman, Baylor Univ., Waco, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.