Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music

Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music: 1442264624: pdf

Product details


  • Full Title: Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music
  • Autor: Joseph P. Swain
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; Second edition
  • Publication Date: October 11, 2016
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442264624
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442264625
  • Download File Format | Size: pdf | 3.48 MB


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Sacred music is a universal phenomenon of humanity. Where there is faith, there is music to express it. Every major religious tradition and most minor ones have music and have it in abundance and variety. There is music to accompany ritual and music purely for devotion, music for large congregations and music for trained soloists, music that sets holy words and music without words at all. In some traditions—Islamic and many Native American, to name just two–the relation between music and religious ritual is so intimate that it is inaccurate to speak of the music accompanying the ritual. Rather, to perform the ritual is to sing, and to sing the ritual is to perform it.

This second edition of Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music contains a chronology, an introduction, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 800 cross-referenced entries on major types of music, composers, key religious figures, specialized positions, genres of composition, technical terms, instruments, fundamental documents and sources, significant places, and important musical compositions. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about sacred music.

Editorial Reviews


As part of the Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts series, this book is a good starting point for amateurs and college students wanting short essays on various topics concerning sacred music around the world. (American Reference Books Annual)

Expanding on the first edition published a decade ago, this second edition adds definitions for over 100 new terms, a portion of which address expressly non-Christian sacred music topics. The content transferred from the first edition, however, remains largely unchanged in the new release. Both works feature a classified bibliography with a table of contents. The bibliography in the second edition is significantly longer and includes more recent works. Swain, an organist and church music director, has prepared a solid ready-reference dictionary of both sacred music concepts and musical terms that are pertinent but not confined to sacred music. There are also entries on particular musical works and composers. The content addresses most broad traditions within Christianity, with entries on other religious traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and others. . . .

Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. (CHOICE)

About the Author

Joseph P. Swain has taught music history and theory at Phillips Academy and Colgate University for more than 25 years. He writes music criticism and critical theory and performs regularly as church organist, violist, and choir director. He has written eight other books about music.

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