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Music in Early Christian Literature (Cambridge Readings in the Literature of Music) Paperback – September 7, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a book to be grateful for since the extracts are intelligently selected and helpfully commented on, while the new translations are as lucid as may be expected with such opaque writings." The Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

Newly translated from the original Greek, Latin and Syriac, this collection of some 400 passages of music from early Christian literature--New Testament to 450 A.D.--renders a large representative collection of liturgical chant accessible.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Readings in the Literature of Music
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 7, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521376246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521376242
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #825,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dwight Gingrich on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for music historians or for those who are just curious enough to be amateur music theologians like me. James McKinnon has collected a large and diverse representative selection of source writings on music from the first 450 years of the early Church. One quickly learns that there is no one "early Christian perspective," but a range of views across time and space.

As McKinnon states in his introduction, there are "four principle categories of material." These are:

1. "That chorus of denunciation directed against pagan musical customs...."

2. "Passages that signal acceptance of music as one of the liberal or encyclical arts."

3. "Musical images or figures of speech."

4. "Passages that shed some light on early liturgical chant."

Given these diverse themes, readers may not find all excerpts of personal interest. Yet the diversity is representative of early Christian thought and helped me gain a more rounded understanding of their musical concerns.

Most interesting to me were the passages that shed light on Christian understandings of the morality of various musical practices, such as musical "styles," music in worship, or instrumentation.
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