Religion and music are complementary resources for interpreting our lives. Music serves the sacred in ways that can be specified and articulated – some believe that it can help man to appreciate God's greatness. Yet the connection has been neglected in the scholarly study of religion.
The Sacred in Music brings the two subjects together in a celebration of the rich western musical tradition, both classical and Christian. The author shows how appreciation of music can help interpret theological traditions with greater sensitivity to their insights and applications. He then presents a description of the concept of sacramental experience, and describes and explores two great Christian sacramental traditions, showing their regard for music as a gift from God who thus places the essence of the divine in human minds.
Attitudes towards music are discussed, including those of the Church, with special treatment given to the place of music in the search for salvation. The final chapter embraces eschatology, dealing with such themes as final bliss and mystical ecstasy.
A traditionalist, Blackwell opposes deconstructionalism and is honest in criticising music he thinks not worth much, but is generally fair and always generous to those with whom he disagrees. The work is consistently intelligent and perceptive, drawing on a wealth of reading with an extensive bibliography and much illustrative quotation. The author is particularly judicious in his sensitive treatment of the relationship between universality and cultural relativity.
A personal tone and clarity of style make the book accessible to non-specialists in music or theology, though it will also appeal to academics starved of books on issues coupling theology and the arts, to clergy and to musicians interested in theology.