Theology and Music Colloquium

MusicA Theology and Music Colloquium was established in 2001 by the University of St. Andrews, in partnership with Calvin College Michigan, and is chaired by Jeremy Begbie. Two residential meetings have been held.

The second meeting took place in Ely, Cambridgeshire, in January 2004, chaired by Jeremy Begbie. Musicians, theologians, philosophers, historians and music theorists, from the UK, Germany, and the USA gathered to engage in a conversation between theology and the musical arts.

Arising out of the colloquium, a book of essays entitled Resonant Witness has been published by Eerdmans:

Resonant Witness: Conversations between Music and Theology

This volume (edited by Jeremy S. Begbie and Steven R. Guthrie, with an Afterword by John D. Witvliet) sets forth a sample of different forms of engagement between theology and music. In so doing it seeks to stimulate fruitful dialogue and fresh initiatives in this area.


    Jeremy S. Begbie and Steven R. Guthrie

Part One: Music and Cosmos
1. Augustine and the Art of Music
    Carol Harrison
2. Material: Philip the Chancellor and the Reception of Aristotle's Physics
    Nancy van Deusen
3. "So Faith Comes from What Is Heard": The Relationship between Music and God's Word in the First Two Centuries of German Lutheranism
    Joyce Irwin
4. Created Beauty: The Witness of J. S. Bach
    Jeremy S. Begbie
5. On Music, Mathematics, and Theology: Pythagoras, the Mind, and Human Agency
    John Paul Ito

Part Two: Music and Culture
6. Music as the Mouthpiece of Theology
    Daniel K. L. Chua
7. The Shock of the Positive: Olivier Messiaen, St. Francis, and Redemption through Modernity
    Robert Sholl
8. Quasi Una Sonata: Modernism, Postmodernism, Religion, and Music
    Catherine Pickstock

Part Three: Music and Theology
9. The Integration of Music and Theology in the Vocal Compositions of J. S. Bach
    Richard J. Plantinga
10. "Parables" and "Polyphony": The Resonance of Music as Witness in the Theology of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    David J. R. S. Moseley
11. Musical Time and Eschatology
    Alastair Borthwick, Trevor Hart, and Anthony Monti
12. Improvising Texts, Improvising Communities: Jazz, Interpretation, Heterophony, and the Ekklēsia
    Bruce Ellis Benson

Part Four: Music and Worship
13. Faithful Feelings: Music and Emotion in Worship
    Jeremy S. Begbie
14. Music for the Love Feast: Hildegard of Bingen and the Song of Songs
    Margot Fassler
15. The Wisdom of Song
    Steven R. Guthrie
16. The Truth Shall Set You Free: Song, Struggle, and Solidarity in South Africa
    C. Michael Hawn
17. The Singing of Jesus
    Michael O'Connor

    John D. Witvliet

Glossary of Musical Terms


Contributor Biographies

Jeremy S. Begbie is the inaugural holder of the Thomas A. Langford Research Professorship in Theology at Duke Divinity School, North Carolina. He teaches systematic theology, and specializes in the interface between theology and the arts. His particular research interest is the interplay between music and theology. He is also Senior Member at Wolfson College, Cambridge, and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculties of Divinity and Music at the University of Cambridge. He is author of a number of books, including Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts (T & T Clark); Theology, Music and Time (CUP), and most recently, Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (Baker/SPCK) which won the Christianity Today 2008 Book Award in the Theology/Ethics Category. He has taught widely in the UK, North America and South Africa, specializing in multimedia performance-lectures.

Steve Guthrie is Associate Professor of Theology at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and leads Belmont’s “Religion and the Arts” program. From 2000 to 2003, Dr. Guthrie was the postdoctoral research fellow of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, at the University of St Andrews. He earned his undergraduate degree in music theory from the University of Michigan School of Music, and has worked as a professional musician and a church minister of music. His publications include Breath and Dust: The Holy Spirit and Human Artistry (Baker Academic, 2009); Faithful Performances: Enacting Christian Tradition (ed. with Trevor Hart) (Ashgate, 2006); and the entry “Theology and Music” in the Eerdmans-Brill Encyclopedia of Christianity.

Carol Harrison went up to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, in 1979, and completed her doctorate in Oxford and Paris (Sorbonne) (1987). She taught in the Department of Theology, University of Hull, for one year (1988-89) before taking up her current post as Lecturer in the History and Theology of the Latin West, in the Department of Theology and Religion, in the University of Durham. She is now a University Reader. Her publications include three books on Augustine: “Beauty and Revelation in the Thought of Saint Augustine” (1992); Augustine in Context: Christian Truth and Fractured Humanity (2000); Rethinking Augustine’s Early Theology: an argument for continuity (2006). She is editor of the Routledge Early Church Fathers series and is currently serving as President of the International Association of Patristic Studies.

Nancy van Deusen is Louis and Mildred Benezet Chair in the Humanities at Claremont Graduate University, California. Her publications include Music and Theology at the Early University, which explores the concept of a university, as well as music’s place as an analogical bridge between the natural sciences and philosophy within that concept. A musicologist and music theorist with ongoing interest in music analysis, van Deusen’s teaching activities and scholarly publications have transcended the boundaries between music theory, history, and practice within a cultural context. She is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, several Fulbright Research Grants, and an American Philosophical Society Research Grant. Her teaching career has included positions at California State University, Northridge and the Institute for Musicology at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Joyce Irwin is Director of Music at St. David’s Episcopal Church, DeWitt, New York, and musical director of Schola Cantorum of Syracuse. She received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University and has taught at The University of Georgia and at Colgate University. Her publications include Sacred Sound: Music in Religious Thought and Practice (1983) and Neither Voice nor Heart Alone: German Lutheran Theology of Music in the Age of the Baroque (1993) as well as contributions to Carol Baron’s Bach’s Changing World: Voices in the Community (2006). Currently she is working on the theological writings of Johann Mattheson.

John Paul Ito teaches music theory in the conservatory at Lawrence University. His interdisciplinary interests are reflected in his training: he holds an S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.M. in viola performance from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in music theory from Columbia University. His dissertation, which he is currently converting to book form, dealt with the role of meter in performance and its relationship to physical coordination and the expressive shaping of sound. His more recent research looks at how music theory can operate in an epistemological middle ground between the sciences and the humanities, drawing on models from cognitive linguistics.

Daniel Chua was the Professor of Music Theory and Analysis at King’s College London and has recently become the Head of the School of Humanities and Professor of Music at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of The “Galitzin” Quartets of Beethoven (Princeton 1995) and Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning (Cambridge, 1999). Recent articles include “Untimely Reflections on Operatic Echoes: How Sound Travels in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and Beethoven’s Fidelio, with a Short Instrumental Interlude” (Opera Quarterly) and “Rioting With Stravinsky: A Particular Analysis of the Rite of Spring” (Music Analysis).

Robert Sholl is Reader in Music at London College of Music (TVU, London) and is a visiting lecturer at King’s College, London. He is editor of “Messiaen Studies” (CUP, 2007), and a founding editor of “”. In 2008, Robert organized a major conference on Contemporary Music and Spirituality and London’s Southbank Centre, and (with Sander van Maas) he is the editor of a forthcoming volume of essays on this subject. His doctorate, “Olivier Messiaen and the Culture of Modernity” is also currently being revised for publication. As an organist, Robert has performed most of Messiaen’s music, and he has recently given recitals at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, La Madeleine and Notre-dame de Paris.

Catherine Pickstock is a University Reader in Philosophy and Theology at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow and Tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. She held a research fellowship at Emmanuel College and was then elected to a British Academy postdoctoral fellowship before taking up her lectureship in Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge. She has published several books and articles in the area of philosophical theology, amongst which several focussing upon theology, philosophy and music.

Rick Plantinga is Professor of Religion at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His chief area of research and teaching lies in the area of Christian responses to non-Christian religious traditions. His publications in this area include Christianity and Plurality (Blackwell, 1999). He is also engaged by the relationship between theology and music, on which subject he teaches, lectures, and conducts research.

David Moseley is a Lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in law, theology and philosophy from Magdalen College, Oxford University; and a Ph.D. in theology and music from Jesus College, Cambridge University, writing his thesis on Karl Barth’s theological evaluation of Mozart’s music. He currently serves as Theologian-in-Residence at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, San Diego. During his career, he has also worked for non-profit agencies that provide local social services, international health and development programming, and human rights advocacy, which has allowed him to travel throughout the developing world. He has articles on “Prosperity Gospel” and “Globalization” appearing in the forthcoming edition of the IVP “New Dictionary of Theology”.

Alastair Borthwick is a composer, musicologist and Head of Department (Drama and Music) at the University of Hull, UK. He has an undergraduate degree in physics (BSc, ARCS, Imperial College London), a diploma in piano performance (LTCL), and postgraduate degrees in music (MMus, University of Sheffield; PhD, King’s College London). He has published a book – “Music Theory and Analysis: The Limitations of Logic” (Garland, 1996) and articles on music theory, analysis and music since 1900, particularly British music. His compositions – for choirs (many to Christian texts), soloists, chamber ensembles, and orchestra – have been performed in festivals around the world. He was a featured composer at the Beijing Modern Music Festival in 2006.

Trevor Hart is Professor of Divinity and Director of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts in the University of St. Andrews. His publications include Faith Thinking: the Dynamics of Christian Theology (SPCK, 1995), Hope Against Hope: Christian Eschatology in Contemporary Context (with Richard Bauckham, Eerdmans, 1999), Faithful Performances: Enacting Christian Tradition (ed., with Steven Guthrie, Ashgate, 2006) and Tree of Tales: Tolkien, Literature and Theology (ed., with Ivan Khovacs, Baylor, 2007). His current project is a study of human artistry from the standpoint of a Christian theology of creation.

Antony Monti received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Fordham University in New York. Before his untimely death, he was an adjunct lecturer at Rampao College, The Newark School of Theology, and Bergen Community College in New Jersey and Rockland Community College. His book, “A Natural Theology of the Arts: Imprint of the Spirit” is published by Ashate Press.

Bruce Ellis Benson is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Wheaton College (IL). He is a co-founder of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology and currently serves as its Executive Director. He is also co-chair of the steering committee of the Theology and Continental Philosophy Group and a member of the steering committee of the Theology and Political Consultation, both part of the American Academy of Religion. His authored books are “Graven Ideologies: Nietzsche, Derrida and Marion on Modern Idolatry” (InterVarsity, 2002); “The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music” (Cambridge UP, 2003); and “Pious Nietzsche: Decadence and Dionysian Faith” (Indiana UP, 2008). He is co-editor of “The Phenomenology of Prayer ”(Fordham UP, 2005); “Hermeneutics at the Crossroads” (Indiana UP, 2006); “Transforming Philosophy and Religion: Love’s Wisdom” (Indiana UP, 2008); and “Evangelicals and Empire: Christian Alternatives to the Political Status Quo” (Brazos, 2008). His book “Improvising Like Jazz: An Emerging Vision for the Arts is forthcoming with Baker Academic” (2009).

Margot Fassler is the Robert Tangeman Professor of Music History at Yale University. She is the author or editor of numerous articles and books including Gothic Song: Victorine Sequences and Augustinian Reform in Twelfth-Century Paris (CUP, 1993; second ed., NDP, 2009), which won the Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy and the Otto Kinkeldey Prize of the American Musicological Society, and Making History: the Virgin of Chartres and the Liturgical Framework of Time (YUP, 2009). She also makes documentary films on sacred music, including “Joyful Noise: Psalm Singing in Community,” and, while a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology and in residence at the Center of Theological Inquiry, is writing a book on Hildegard of Bingen.

C. Michael Hawn is Professor of Church Music and Director of the Sacred Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA. His undergraduate and graduate degrees are from Wheaton College (B.M.E.) and Southern Seminary (M.C.M. and D.M.A.). He has received several fellowships for study in Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the area of world Christian music and liturgical inculturation. He has published over 250 articles, chapters in books, reviews and curriculum materials. His books include “Gather into One: Praying and Singing Globally” (Eerdmans, 2003) and “One Bread, One Body: Exploring Cultural Diversity in Worship” (Alban Institute, 2003). Recently, his chapter, “Praying Globally – Pitfalls and Possibilities of Cross-cultural Liturgical Appropriation” appears in “Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons, Deepening Practices”, ed. Charles Farhadian (Eerdmans, 2007).

Michael O’Connor is a lecturer at St Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. He studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and historical theology at the University of Oxford. His energies are currently divided between academic administration and teaching – the latter including courses on music in the Christianity and Culture Program in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts and Science. A former Warden of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in the UK, he is a member of the Board of the newly-established RSCM Canada. He has been a member of the international Advisory Board of the Theology Through the Arts Project since 2000. His interests include the relationship between the Bible and the arts (especially music), the theology of worship, and the theology of music.

John D. Witvliet is Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and teaches worship, theology, and music at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary. His responsibilities include oversight of the Worship Institute’s practical and scholarly programs, including the annual Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Worship Renewal Grants Program, funded by Lilly Endowment. He is the author of The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship (Eerdmans), Worship Seeking Understanding (Baker Academic) and co-editor of Worship in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004). A graduate of Calvin College, Dr. Witvliet holds graduate degrees in theology from Calvin Theological Seminary, in choral music from the University of Illinois, and the Ph.D. in liturgical studies and theology from the University of Notre Dame.