O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music

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University of Chicago Press, Mar 22, 2017 - History - 454 pages
For as long as people have worshipped together, music has played a key role in church life. With O Sing unto the Lord, Andrew Gant offers a fascinating history of English church music, from the Latin chant of late antiquity to the great proliferation of styles seen in contemporary repertoires.

The ornate complexity of pre-Reformation Catholic liturgies revealed the exclusive nature of this form of worship. By contrast, simple English psalms, set to well-known folk songs, summed up the aims of the Reformation with its music for everyone. The Enlightenment brought hymns, the Methodists and Victorians a new delight in the beauty and emotion of worship. Today, church music mirrors our multifaceted worldview, embracing the sounds of pop and jazz along with the more traditional music of choir and organ. And reflecting its truly global reach, the influence of English church music can be found in everything from masses sung in Korean to American Sacred Harp singing.

From medieval chorales to “Amazing Grace,” West Gallery music to Christmas carols, English church music has broken through the boundaries of time, place, and denomination to remain familiar and cherished everywhere. Expansive and sure to appeal to all music lovers, O Sing unto the Lord is the biography of a tradition, a book about people, and a celebration of one of the most important sides to our cultural heritage.

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O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Gant (Christmas Carols), lecturer at St. Peter’s College at the University of Oxford, shows readers that church music in England has always reflected larger theological, political, and social contexts ... Read full review


1 In the Beginning
2 Music for a New Millennium
Possibilities and Promise
The Approach of the Reformation 15091547
Reformation and CounterReformation 15471558
6 Church Music and Society in Elizabeths England 15581603
7 Plots Scots Politics and the Beauty of Holiness 16031645
8 Interregnum 16441660
12 Renewal 18371901
13 Composers from S S Wesley to Elgar 18301934
14 The Splintering of the Tradition 19142015
Further Investigations
Illustration Credits

9 Restoration 16601714
10 The Enlightenment 17121760
11 West Galleries and Wesleys Methodists and Mendelssohn 17601850

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About the author (2017)

Andrew Gant is a lecturer at St Peter's College at the University of Oxford. A church musician, author, and composer, he was the organist, choirmaster, and composer at Her Majesty's Chapel Royal from 2000 to 2013. He is the author of Christmas Carols: From Village Green to Church Choir.

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