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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Bible in Music: A Dictionary of Songs, Works, and More
Long, Siobhán Dowling and John F.A. Sawyer

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 pp. xxxi + 339. $95.00


Description: There have been numerous publications in the last decades on the Bible in literature, film, and art. But until now, no reference work has yet appeared on the Bible as it appears in Western music. In The Bible in Music: A Dictionary of Songs, Works, and More, scholars Siobhan Dowling Long and John F. A. Sawyer correct this gap in Biblical reference literature, providing for the first time a convenient guide to musical interpretations of the Bible. Alongside examples of classical music from the Middle Ages through modern times, Dowling Long and Sawyer also bring attention to the Bible’s impact on popular culture with numerous entries on hymns, spirituals, musicals, film music, and contemporary popular music. Each entry contains essential information about the original context of the work (date, composer, etc.) and, where relevant, its afterlife in literature, film, politics, and liturgy. It includes an index of biblical references and an index of biblical names, as well as a detailed timeline that brings to the fore key events, works and publications, placing them in their historical context. There is also a bibliography, a glossary of technical terms and an index of artists, authors, and composers. The Bible in Music will fascinate anyone familiar with the Bible, but it is also designed to encourage choirs, musicians, musicologists, lecturers, teachers, and students of music and religious education to discover and perform some less well-known pieces, as well as helping them to listen to familiar music with a fresh awareness of what it is about.

Subjects: Bible, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Interpretation

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Review by James F. McGrath
Published 1/11/2018
Citation: James F. McGrath, review of Siobhán Dowling Long and John F.a. Sawyer, The Bible in Music: A Dictionary of Songs, Works, and More, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2018).


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