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How Is Spirituality Mediated Through Choral Music?

2093 words - 8 pages

In answering the question ‘how’ is spirituality mediated through choral music, I think it important to consider what spirituality is in the context of its influence on everyday society. Christian theology says that spirituality is “a quality or practice of the inner life of God before it is a human quality or practice” (http://exhumator.com/00-047-00_esoteric-religious-spiritual-christian-spirituality.html). It is because of shared ideas, perspectives, attitudes and themes – all of which can be influenced by the media in general and music as one specific example – that human conflicts can be mitigated and knowledge nurtured, enhancing the sense of self and broadening the power to amaze and engage. Spirituality in music is about stepping outside the ordinary, and the Christian Eucharistic acclamation ‘great is the mystery of faith’ lays weight to the spiritual connection between humankind and the other-worldly, something that has no boundary and affords breadth of expression and meaning. What makes choral music important is the way it is experienced in a spiritual sense, as reconciliation between God and humankind. To understand music in this way is to understand what it says about God. As popular culture appeals to a broad public, so spirituality reflects this sense of understanding and engagement, which helps change outlooks of more established disciplines and breaks down the barriers in response to the needs of society.

The origins of choral music are found in traditional music where group singing was widespread in traditional cultures. Choral music as a symbol with many meanings within the Christian faith is the key that lets the individual set the spiritual universe in motion and then sit back to watch and listen. It is intensely personal and can bring about what seems impossible, revealing the spiritual truth about the human condition. In essence, choral music helps forge the connection between the tangible words and the spirit, thus making it possible for the individual to be transformed by connecting the community of humankind as a single spiritual body. The expression of spirituality through choral music cultivates love for God as well as neighbour, whilst providing an escape from this life for another worldly realm.

Choral music is not particularly adept at breaking down social barriers but courts spiritual engagement, empowering human life experience and promoting sense of purpose. Contemporary culture involves a hurried style of life that opens the gates for deep reflection about things, and the depth of that contemplation can be enhanced by choral music and the journey to the spiritual plane accelerated. The sociologist Peter Berger said that “the moments when you feel lifted beyond yourself and infinity seems almost within reach are signals of transcendence” (Sacks, 1999). Songs of any genre can group people from different communities, but it is in choral music that harmonization occurs and the religious spectrum is...

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