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The Language of Music: A critical investigation into the relationship between hymns and Christian spirituality

Nicol, Alisoun S (2004) The Language of Music: A critical investigation into the relationship between hymns and Christian spirituality. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis was motivated by the observation that both music and Christian hymns can move people deeply, and sought to discover why this should be so. Its aim was to examine the relationship between hymns and Christian spirituality, with a view to establishing the worth of hymns both within the Christian liturgy and as a potential tool for pastoral ministry.

The paper begins by comparing the use of music in the secular world with that in the Christian church. Thereafter, it traces music back to its earliest roots; considers its origin and purpose, and looks at its use in biblical times. Drawing extensively on psychology, it moves on to explore what is known today about the effect of music on humanity; before the passage and purpose of hymnody within Christian worship is investigated. The primary methodology of the research is a field study, undertaken within The Anglican Church of Australia, which considers the nature and effect of well-loved hymns on Christian men and women aged sixty years and over.

Those taking part in the study were affected profoundly by the hymns they selected to sing. Analysis of the results allowed certain observations to be made about the effect of hymns on those within the study-demographic: observations that then were integrated with relevant theoretical models of Christian spirituality. The findings suggest that there is, indeed, a relationship between hymns and Christian spirituality, and one which might be described as symbiotic. The implications of this for both the church and pastoral carer are discussed.

Though the focus of the study was narrowed to a specific demographic, it is hoped that the exploratory component of the paper, together with general implications that may be drawn from the findings, will make the research of help and relevance beyond the study boundaries.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you
Supervisor(s): Ault, Nancy
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