Alone in the Garden?

On Evangelical hymns: Can I really sing about a relationship with the Lord that is so joyous that no other person has ever experienced it? Doesn’t this go beyond the bounds of hyperbolic spiritual enthusiasm? Continue Reading »

Songs of Exile

Where has all the dark Christian music gone? It doesn’t take much listening to notice how blithe and breezy popular Christian music has become. At the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight, Leah Libresco has run the numbers and found that the lyrics of recent Christian hits skew towards life, . . . . Continue Reading »

No Apology for Bach's Theology

As the cantor of Leipzig, Bach was responsible for composing music for Sunday ­services, which produced reams of choral ­music, mostly cantatas. Because of this, it would be difficult to find a composer who wrote more sacred music. Like Victoria and Bruckner, Bach’s works stem from his own devotion. But more than any other composer, Bach uses complex music to articulate theology. . . . Continue Reading »

The Play of Daniel

Earlier this month, I had a chance to see the Gotham Early Music Scene’s production of The Play of Daniel, a medieval Christmas pageant, performed as part of the annual Twelfth Night Festival at New York’s Trinity Church. The festival, which the church started several years ago, revives the idea . . . . Continue Reading »

Reflection on Ascending Light

G-major, D-major. Amen. So be it.It is week two of the Festspiele here in Salzburg, where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms echo through the streets every day. However, in a city filled with the world’s greatest musicians performing the stuff of musical legend, it is a relatively new piece of music that floods my mind. Continue Reading »

Calvary’s Lost Catholicism

Patrick Cassidy, the composer for the 2014 film Calvary, jokes about the film’s grimness: “It’s not exactly a date movie.” He’s right: The film follows a lonely Irish priest as he shepherds a cold and bitter village. Its harsh realism is profoundly humbling. Heavy as the film is, it is lifted by Cassidy’s classical score. Continue Reading »

Christmas in Harvard Square

Christmas in Harvard Square is the first recording of the St. Paul’s Choir school, the only Catholic boys’ choir school in America. Led by Mr. John Robinson, a former assistant from Canterbury Cathedral, the boys take their music and their faith seriously. Continue Reading »