CHRISTIANITY AND MUSIC
Illustrated talks, lectures and workshops by
Christopher Martin Thomas
MMus ARCO PGCE
The following is a list of talks, lectures and workshops, mostly illustrated by Powerpoint Presentations, recorded music and singing (some participatory). Most have been delivered at such places as the Royal Academy of Music, the London School of Theology, the London Bach Festival, the Royal Musical Association, Kings College London, the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, and various church groups. Each title can stand on its own, or be given as part of a series. As indicated by the broad range of audiences above, much of the material is equally adaptable to theology students, performing musicians, musicologists and congregational workshops. For abstracts, see below; for sample material, see the Articles page of this website.
For further information and booking:
*BACH AND HIS FAITH
*BACH, HIS BIBLE AND THEOLOGICAL LIBRARY
*THEOLOGY OF MUSIC IN WORSHIP
*LUTHER AND THE CASE FOR MUSICAL STANDARDS
*STARTING FROM SCRATCH IN WORSHIP MUSIC TODAY
*THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC
*MUSIC, MISSION AND ECUMENISM
*REFORMATION, RENAISSANCE AND MUSIC
*PRAETORIUS AND THE HEAVENLY VISION
*CALVIN, CALVINISM, AND MUSIC IN CHURCH AND HOME
*LUTHER AND CALVIN ON MUSIC
*SCHÜTZ AND THE BIBLE
*SOPHIE ELISABETH: A LUTHERAN NOBLEWOMAN COMPOSER
*THOMAS TALLIS, HIS 40-PART MOTET, AND SINGING IN THE SPIRIT
*SETTING THE BIBLE TO MUSIC
*USING THE BIBLE WITH MUSIC
*HYMNS AND PSALMS - A HISTORICAL SURVEY
*TEN WAYS TO SING THE PSALMS – AN ALL-DAY WORKSHOP
*LITURGY AND MUSIC IN THE REFORMED CHURCHES
*THE PURITANS AND MUSIC
*DOMESTIC DEVOTIONAL MUSIC 1500 TO 1700
*COMPOSERS AND FAITH
*MESSIAEN AND THE NUMINOUS
*MUSIC AND MEANING
*ATONEMENT AND REDEMPTION IN MUSIC
Christopher Thomas read for a music degree at Bristol University, where the local Christian Arts Group introduced him to the works of Francis Schaeffer, Hans Rookmaaker, the Institute for Christian Studies, and the implications of Reformed Theology for the whole of learning, worship and life. He continued his studies in church music at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule, and undertook studies for a masters degree at Kings College London in musicology, aesthetics, criticism, lexicography, theory and performance practice. His work came under the influence of professors Robin Leaver, Calvin Seerveld, Heinz Werner Zimmermann and Brian Trowell, through whom he focused his research on Devotional Domestic Music in England 1550 to 1650. He has directed music in school and church, including posts at Waltham Abbey, St.John’s Hyde Park, St.Peter’s Eaton Square, St.Mary’s Wimbledon and St.Ignatius College Enfield and Holy Trinity Geneva. Currently Director of Music at St.John the Baptist Keynsham, he has contributed music and articles to Der Kirchenmusiker, the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, The Churchman and Christian Music Magazine.
CHRISTIANITY AND MUSIC
BACH AND HIS FAITH
J S Bach is placed in his family and church context. His position on the Orthodox/Pietist controversy is discussed, though more relevance is attached to the inseparability of his Biblical orientation from family life and professional pursuit. Included are some well-illustrated explorations of his method of composition in the B minor Mass and the Art of Fugue, and of works of explicit evangelical Lutheran proclamation.
BACH, HIS BIBLE AND THELOGICAL LIBRARY
The comments and under-linings Bach made in his Calovius Bible are as remarkable as the story of its recent discovery and authentication. The identification of his handwriting, the linking of underlings with events and cantata texts, and the evidence of his concerns and motivations: these are clearly to be discerned with the use of screened facsimiles. Further indication as to his theological perspective is gained from extracts in his extensive library of sermons, Bible commentaries and doctrinal tomes.
LUTHER AND THE CASE FOR MUSICAL STANDARDS
Martin Luther is presented as an Evangelical with a zeal for music as the ‘handmaid of theology’, and is placed in an unbroken tradition from Augustine and Ambrose to Schutz and Bach. Why has the tradition flourished in Germany but not in England? Explanation is furnished from his many writings on music, and from church and political history. It includes items for all to sing or listen to, and a demonstration of cantus firmus extended from Luther’s own eulogy to Josquin des Pres.
MUSIC, MISSION AND ECUMENISM
The prefaces to ‘Mission Praise’ and ‘Songifts’ provide the springboard for an examination of contemporary international worship music. The influences of Taizé, lona, the Anglican Renewal Movement, The Fisherfolk, the Vineyard Fellowship, the World Council of Churches, the Royal School of Church Music, Worship Central, Hillsong, Bethel, Kendrick, Getty and Townend are compared and evaluated, along with other interdenominational musical offerings.
PRAETORIUS AND THE HEAVENLY VISION
Michael Praetorius’s theology of music is illustrated from his title-page vision of music in heaven and on earth, and his writings in ‘Syntagma Musicum’. The grandson of Luther’s cantor Johan Walter, Praetorius offers insight into the potential unity of ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ music-making, and into the assimilation of new styles alongside the best of the ancient. The circumstances in his own church are explained and illustrated with recordings of his music for massed choirs of instruments and voices.
MESSIAEN AND THE NUMINOUS
Olivier Messiaen is placed in context musically and theologically, illustrated by a variety of recordings (or performances), and made accessible to the lay-listener by means of keyboard-aided explanations. His portrayal-in-sound of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the mass is set alongside his use of more general Christian themes and elements of Hindu culture. Includes recorded or live performances, dependant upon the availability of a suitable organ.
SCHÜTZ AND THE BIBLE
The funeral oration given by Martin Geir at Heinrich Schütz’s burial is the starting-point for a discussion of the composer’s theology of music, one extended from that of Luther. Schütz is seen as a contemporary Chenaniah with the spiritual as well as musical recognition of his peers. His Biblical settings are illustrated with recordings of performances from his Geistliche Chormusik, Psalmen Davids and Symphoniae Sacrae.
THOMAS TALLIS, HIS 40-PART MOTET,AND SINGING IN THE SPIRIT
The magnificent 40-part motet ‘Spem in Alium’ is set in context and somewhat de-mystified, and commended as a timeless gift to the church and to the world, of the order of Bach’s B minor Mass. Illustrations are taken from various reconstructions, and from Tallis’s ecstatic Pentecost motet, ‘Loquebantur variis linguis’ — then these are used as the starting-point for a discussion of the phenomenon of ‘singing in the Spirit’.
SOME ENGLISH COMPOSERS AND THEIR RELIGIOUS ALLEGIANCES
Farnaby, Alison and Tailour, active between 1590 and 1650, are presented as ‘secular’ composers whose theological opinions reached publication. Settings from their printed Psalms are sung and played, in original and Worship Band arrangements, and the popular vogue for domestic Psalm-singing among the Elizabethans and Puritans is explored.
LUTHER AND CALVIN ON MUSIC
A comparison of the two Reformers' theology of music, and the origins of their very influential views, is illustrated with Genevan Psalmody and Lutheran hymnody - with much audience participation. Local choirs can be involved with prepared perormances of composers who stand fully in the divergent traditions: eg Michael Praetorius, Schütz, Bach, Mendelssohn, Sweelink and Claude le Jeune.
TEN WAYS TO SING THE PSALMS
A one-day workshop aimed very widely, of interest to choirs, congregations of all churches and denominations, clergy and music directors. Among the ‘ten ways’, it will include plainsong, Anglican Chant, Genevan Psalms in original and contemporary instrumental settings, Responsorial Psalms and modern metrical Psalms; culminating in a short service using some of the Psalm settings learnt in the workshop. Ideally to involve local choirs and bands to perform some of the choral and concerted settings, but may instead use my own recordings.