There is no way to summarize what this book covers, even if we were to omit all the things that it pointed to beyond itself. The intersection of the Bible and music includes more material, more perspectives, more questions raised and possibilities explored than a single book could ever do justice to. It seems appropriate to echo famous passages from the Gospel of John and the Letter to the Hebrews: there are many other works of music “that are not written in this book…” and “What more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of…” (John 20:30–31; 21:25; Hebrews 11:32). Some will have read this book motivated by academic interest (or a course requirement), while others may have come here motivated by love of music and/or a personal faith. Hopefully the book offers something for everyone. You will get even more out of it if you listen repeatedly and engage in conversations with others who share your interest in this topic but with different motivations. These things were written to introduce you to this fascinating area of intersection, to whet your appetite, to begin your journey and exploration rather than bring it to a grand finale.

In an online workshop on the Bible and music, Rev. Catherine Duce of St. Martin of the Fields church in the UK pointed out that repeated listening unlocks new depths in music, just as repeated reading of a text—any text, scriptural or not—can lead to further insights. In the spiritual practice known as lectio divina, it is common not only to begin with a reading of Scripture but to read repeatedly, expecting the encounter with the text to grow deeper and richer through the repetition. While it can enhance one’s spiritual experience, that isn’t the only reason to reread. You’ve undoubtedly noticed new things in your second viewing of a movie. Repetition is not merely going over the same ground but going deeper into the same area in ways that are impossible on a first encounter. Whether your aim in reading this book is to understand the Bible better, appreciate music more deeply, explore religion in popular culture, find spiritual enrichment, or some combination of those, repeated encounters with the text, with the music, and with the two together will unlock new doors and offer further rewards.

And so if you aren’t sure what to do next, perhaps you should go back to the start of the book and begin reading and listening to the texts and music again. Despite what you may think, it won’t be the same experience all over again.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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

Share This Book