Cover image for Sacred song in America : religion, music, and public culture
Sacred song in America : religion, music, and public culture
Marini, Stephen A., 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xi, 395 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML2911 .M37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In Sacred Song in America, Stephen A. Marini explores the full range of American sacred music and demonstrates how the meanings and functions of this musical expression can contribute to a greater understanding of religious culture. Marini examines the role of sacred song across the United States, from the musical traditions of Native Americans and the Hispanic peoples of the Southwest, to the Sacred Harp singers of the rural South and the Jewish music revival to the music of the Mormon, Catholic, and Black churches. Including chapters on New Age and Neo-Pagan music, gospel music, and hymnals as well as interviews with iconic composers of religious music, Sacred Song in America pursues a historical, musicological, and theoretical inquiry into the complex roles of ritual music in the public religious culture of contemporary America.

Author Notes

Stephen A. Marini is Elisabeth Luce Moore Professor of Christian Studies and a professor of American religion and ethics at Wellesley College. He is the author of Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Marini (Wellesley College) describes himself as "a historian of American religions and a lifelong performer of sacred music," qualifications well suited to the subject of this book. Selecting from an immensely diverse field, the author examines in separate chapters Native American song, Hispanic penitential songs, sacred harp singing, black gospel music, klezmer music and Sephardic song, new age and neo-pagan music, Mormon music, Catholic charismatic song, the gospel music industry, controversies about the use of inclusive language in two recent major Protestant hymnals, and the role of the classical composer in contemporary religious music. He provides historical background for each area; however, his main purpose is to examine philosophical issues and sociological consequences. His research is extensive, drawing on existing studies and his own fieldwork (extensive interviews with approximately two dozen religious-music leaders). He clearly defines basic issues in contemporary American religious life, both inside and outside organized denominations, and shows how music plays a central role in devotional activity. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All academic and large public libraries supporting music and religion. W. K. Kearns emeritus, University of Colorado at Boulder