Justice has been an urgent concern of twentieth-century hymn writers, but are they the first to place such an emphasis on it? In Let Justice Sing, Paul Westermeyer offers an answer with the hope that it will stimulate dialogue, future studies, and an understanding of the past that can be applied to the present.
Let Justice Sing explores the content, context, and importance of justice within the "warp and woof" of hymnody. By analyzing these aspects and past hymnic repertoires, it suggests to the Church and others who wish to join the moral deliberation it presumes, that not only have Christians always sung about justice, but the message transcends the messengers.
The perspective and dialogue fostered by Let Justice Sing is directed to students in college or seminary courses where hymnody, Church music, or ethics is the topic; adults in forums or classes where questions about music and justice arise; and anyone with an interest in hymnody, justice, or the relationship between the two.
Chapters are "Content: The Twentieth Century": "Content: Before the Twentieth Century, I"; "Content: Before the Twentieth Century, II"; "Context"; and “Hymnody and Justice.”
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This work is informed by careful, critical thought, rooted in a theology of the cross, and sensitive to the challenges faced by musicians, pastors, and congregations as they seek to sing justice in a complex, pluralistic age. Mindful of the Scylla of a private piety and the Charybdis of a political agenda, Westermeyer helps us steer a course which, by staying close to Word and Sacrament, thrusts us into the world for which Christ died, not only to sing justice, but to do it. This is an important book on a critical subject and should serve the church well.
Paul Westermeyer leads us into a wonderful exploration of deeper thingsis it possible to be a follower of Christ and not have justice sing?
In this important work, Paul Westermeyer uncovers the hidden history of justice in pre-modern hymnody ancient, Reformation, ethnic and evangelical. He also astutely examines current justice concerns in worship and hymns with a discerning eye for the difference between the prophetic and the ideological. Especially perceptive is his discussion of inclusive language issues, one that strives to integrate the justice mandate with doctrinal fidelity. A rich resource for clergy, congregations, seminary students and musicians.
Both pastors and musicians need to take up anew the responsibility to witness for justice. The book would make a wonderful catalyst for our rededication to this task.
Paul Westermeyer, PhD, is Professor of Church Music at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. He teaches, directs music, and administers a master of sacred music degree program with St. Olaf College. His writing includes numerous articles and books.