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‘Sing to the Lord with the harp’: Attitudes to musical instruments in early Christianity, 680 A.D.

SHIRT, DAVID,JOHN (2015) ‘Sing to the Lord with the harp’: Attitudes to musical instruments in early Christianity, 680 A.D. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Arguments for the absence of instrumental music in early Christian worship are commonly founded on a corpus of texts which, in the main, describe the attitudes of their educated,elite authors towards worship within churches and other officially sanctioned venues of the Roman empire. This inevitably ignores much of the popular religious ritual associated with the non-elite Christian(ized) masses. Of equal significance, it ignores huge swathes of the population, beyond the Mediterranean world, who, in more remote locations such as Ireland and Ethiopia, embraced Christianity and expressed it in the context of their own cultures. However important the Roman empire was, the horizons on which any assessment of musical practice is focused, must extend beyond its geographical borders.This not only involves examining a diversity of geographical locations, but a diversity of definitions regarding concepts of Christian worship. It is not only the attitudes of the elite, well aware of the disciplines of their philosophical/theological heritage, but the attitudes of the uneducated masses, whose religious practices were not necessarily in conformity with the desires and demands of Church authority, which provide the groundwork upon which this dissertation is built.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Musical instruments; early Church, psalms, suppression, Mediterranean world; Ethiopia; Ireland. Church fathers.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 Sep 2015 10:48

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