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A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice (The Practices of Faith Series) Hardcover – October 20, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
Book 21 of 6 in the Practices of Faith Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two respected musicians from wildly different venues add a new volume to the Practices of Faith Series on Christian spirituality, this one on the spirituality of music. Don Saliers, a church musician and professor of theology and worship at Candler School of Theology, teams up with daughter Emily, one-half of the popular group the Indigo Girls, to write a warmly personal book about the healing power of music as it "encodes life, most especially shared life." Although Emily's music is labeled "Saturday night" and Don's "Sunday morning," they want readers to have "crossover experiences" in which we find the sacred in all authentic and truth-revealing music, regardless of genre. The authors address the "worship wars" taking place in churches over which type of music is the most welcoming to newcomers, warning churches not to dismiss either traditional or new music, but to look for music from many styles and cultures that challenges us to encounter mystery. Pull up a chair and sit in the family room as these two share the places where their views on music connect and diverge, demonstrating how to "make musical judgments, but not in a judgmental manner." Musicians, music-lovers and indeed all those devoted to the "spirituality of daily life" will be inspired.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Musicians often acknowledge the Saturday night-Sunday morning dichotomy in their lives: the decadence of the one contradicting the piety of the other. Not the Saliers, a father and daughter who are, respectively, a professor of theology and one-half of the folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls. For them, music and life are forever linked, and music has transformed their lives. They write of their experiences--their songlines, as they say--in different generations, discussing the universal language of music and recalling their family singing together on long car trips. They consider how the basics of music--rhythm, melody, harmony, tempo--conjure sounds that move us so profoundly, and ponder music's inherent spirituality, and the ineffability of the creative process. While it's fun reading about father's and daughter's musical differences and similarities, their distinctive musical moments prove more memorable. Emily recalls the morning when, hearing an orchestral piece on the radio, she had to stop the car and listen. A lovely meditation on the power of music. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: The Practices of Faith Series (Book 17)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787967173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787967178
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,264,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Can't get that song out of your head? Neither can they. In their new book "A Song to Sing, A Life to Live" Don Saliers, renowned professor of theology at Emory, and his daughter Emily Saliers, Grammy award winning singer/songwriter of the Indigo Girls, sing in harmony the praises of music and its connection to the soul. They remind us that it is music which generates the vibrating strings of energy connecting us to all living things. Their discussions of how music helps to shape us by connecting us to memories, people, places, and the Divine Source is both uplifting and inspirational. Both Don and Emily provide insights into how music has inspired them and directed their lives not only on a path of self-discovery, but a path of discovering the world around them; a world made visible only through music. This book will make you stop and look at the music you enjoy in a different light. I was deeply moved by the story of a young girl, Sarah, on her death bed waiting to hear Emily, and Indigo Girls partner Amy Ray, sing Emily's "Southland in the Springtime"; dying only hours after the duo finished their song. It made me question why even in death we long to fill our soul with our favorite music, but as Don and Emily point out, the cycle of life moves to music. They remind us that we cannot escape the rhythms with which daily life moves; whether it is the bustle of traffic, the roar of the ocean, or the singing of the birds. Our own bodies would not exist without the heart's intricate beating and the exact rhythm of our breathing. In essence, we are born in rhythm and die in song. I highly recommend this book as a primer in understanding the connection between music and the soul. This book is enlightening, uplifting, and fun. As an added bonus you'll also be treated to the personal stories and anecdotes of Don and Emily's encounters with music. Thank you Don and Emily for your courage and openness. Rock on!
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book since I am an Indigo Girls fan-particularly of Emily's song writing. This book is about tolerance of all music and how it affects just about all that we do. It talks about some of the stories behind Emily's song lyrics which I find fascinating, but also gives a great history behind many of the hymns that her father plays in their church. I would have liked to have seen Emily mention her mother and her impact on her song writing, but overall...the language and the ideas expressed in this book are beautiful and wonderful. I was sent this book as a gift, and it truly was. What a delightful treat to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Authors Don and Emily Saliers, father and daughter, write from very different but equally fascinating places. He is a noted church musician and composer and university professor at a major Protestant divinity school; she has left behind her traditional church upbringing and practice and now writes music and performs as part of the maverick singing group Indigo Girls which has been around for nearly 2 decades. If you are a church musician this book will especially speak to you I think. If you're not -- and I'm not -- many of the sections written by Don may leave you confused. At least that was the impact on me. Consequently, I wasn't able to connect to his spirituality in the way I'd expected, despite my longtime church background. Emily's contributions to the book, in which I was especially interested because of Indigo Girls' social justice activism, were far fewer up to the point, about half way through the book, where I finally quit reading. I was just plain bored, and I realized I'd been skimming through pages, hoping for but finding nothing that really touched or inspired me. I felt I was reading a college textbook. There was an emotional distance that seemed odd to me for a book about spirituality. Or maybe it really is a book about music, and I'm not a musician, though I love music and it is the source of my greatest spiritual growth and comfort. Because I admire both Emily and Don Saliers so much, I keep thinking it must be me that's the problem where this book is concerned. Maybe so. Maybe no. But I never finished it.
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