Sacred Song in America: Religion, Music, and Public Culture.

Marini, Stephen A. Sacred Song in America: Religion, Music, and Public Culture. University of Illinois Press, 2003.

Through an analysis and description of “sacred song” in several social and ecclesiastical contexts, Stephen A. Marini explores the role of music as expression of public religion in America. Marini defines sacred song as religious music that conveys specifiable mythic meaning through sacred lyric and has distinct connotations of ritual performance. Sacred song in its three dimensions of music, myth, and ritual require a social context and as such is already a form of public expression of religion. The historical dimension of sacred songs is exemplified through the practice of religious music in Native American, Chicano Catholic, Sacred Harp, Black Church, and Jewish traditions. Marini explores the contemporary character of sacred songs through recent hymnals of the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Church of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, and the music of Catholic artist John Michael Talbott. Sacred songs enable a collective consciousness of spiritual identity and have the capacity to thus transform individuals and communities as evident from the historical and contemporary illustrations Marini provides.