Appendix 1: Paths through This Book

With a digital/online text, it is even easier than with a print book to do what professors regularly do with textbooks—namely, mix up the order in which students are expected to read chapters/sections. In fact, although the book is structured in three main parts, that is not the order the author asks students to read materials in. It makes sense to jump from Bach as composer to the theme of Passions, for instance. But at several points, chapters earlier in the book offer you a chance to jump to the chapter about a specific composer who created a work that is an example of what that chapter is discussing. There is no need to follow a linear path through the book, whether you are reading it for your own interest or using it as a textbook in a course.

In this appendix you will find the author’s own outline in case it provides a convenient structure for a course that you will use it in as a textbook. If this order doesn’t work for you, try a different one, and if it works well for you and your students, please tell the author, as he may want to adopt your organization for his course as well!

Provisional Topic and Meeting Outline (Based on a Schedule of Two Meetings per Week)

First Meeting

Introduction to the class: What is music? What is the Bible? Reading: Introduction

Clarifying the syllabus: Class meetings, activities, grading, earning points

Week 1

Topic 1: Music behind and in the Bible. Reading: 1. Ancient Music Behind and in the Bible

Topic 2: Chanting Scripture in the temple, synagogues, and churches. Reading: 2. Chanting in Synagogues; 3. Chanting in Churches

Week 2

Topic 1: Impact of the Protestant Reformation; metrical psalms. Reading: 4. The Protestant Reformation and Metrical Psalms

Topic 2: More on translation, paraphrase, retelling, and meaning

Week 3: Creation in Music and Creativity

Topic 1: Creation: Haydn to Copland and Beyond. Reading: 7. Creation

Topic 2: Creation in Genesis and musical creation continued. Reading: Appendix 2: Making Music with Apps, Websites, and Software

Week 4: Combining Texts

Topic 1: Handel as entrepreneur and biblical Stories as entertainment. Reading: 27. The Bible as Musical, Oratorio, and Opera

Topic 2: Bringing texts together: Messiah, requiems, and more. Reading: 28. Handel’s Messiah

Week 5: The Story of Jesus in Music and Film

Topic 1: Bach as theologian. Reading: 25. Johann Sebastian Bach

Topic 2: Passions: From Bach to Mel Gibson and beyond. Reading: 26. Passions: Bach and Beyond

Week 6

Topic 1: Saul, David, and Bathsheba. Reading: 11. King David (and His Family, Friends, and Enemies)

Topic 2: Music as Prayer? Reading: 8. Psalms; 18. Our Father

Week 7

No class meeting: Projects / spring or fall break

Week 8

Topic 1: Children’s songs (student show and tell)

Topic 2: Children’s songs (continued)

Week 9 Moses and the Exodus

Topic 1: Spirituals and slavery. Reading: 5. Spirituals; 10. Exodus

Topic 2: Schoenberg and liberation from tonality. Reading: 30. Arnold Schoenberg

Week 10

Topic 1: Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis: Setting the same text more than once. Reading: 17. Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis

Topic 2: Romance in the Bible? Ruth, Song of Songs, Delilah, and Esther. Reading: 14. Song of Songs; 13. Romance in the Bible? Ruth and Boaz, Samson and Delilah; 16. Salome

Week 11

Topic 1: Secular biblical music and “holy minimalism” Reading: 31. John Rutter; 33. Arvo Pärt

Topic 2: Popular music. Reading: 20. Alleluias and Allusions; 9. Isaac and Family

Week 12: Scavenger Hunt and Allusions

Topic: Students earn one point per example of a pop (not “classical” or “worship”) song with the relevant biblical reference, plus one additional point for explanation of meaning.

Week 13: Work on Final Projects

Topic: If time permits, include reading: 21. Biblical Music without Words

Week 14: Student Presentation of Final Projects



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The Bible and Music by James F. McGrath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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