Sacred Musical Compositions


September 26, 2017

cburchThe beliefs and history of different faiths are often symbolized by their sacred music, for instance a Mass by Palestrina reflects the glory and majesty of Renaissance Catholicism, and a Bach cantata expresses the bold confidence of early Protestantism. Professor Vicki Gresik’s upcoming class, “Sacred Music: The Association of Music and Religion.” takes us through the basic tenets of the world’s major religions and explores the liturgical and devotional music, and classical art music inspired by these faiths. We wanted to find out much more!

WIH Reporter: What makes your class a “must take” seminar?

Gresik: I think religions are fascinating and sacred music can be some of the most beautiful music ever written. I hope to introduce my students to a variety of religious compositions. Some religious compositions will be familiar, and others might be new discoveries. Most of us are familiar with music from our own faith, but we may not have heard how others praise God.

WIH Reporter: What mistaken impressions do we have about sacred music?

Gresik: I think that many people assume that sacred music is pretty old, even ancient, but composers are writing contemporary hymns today, some using a traditional format, others using an interfaith background. Young performers are creating a sacred sound that is meaningful to their generation.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about sacred music?

Gresik: Besides the fact that contemporary composers are writing sacred music today, if we listen to the lyrics of a number of popular songs we might be surprised to hear a religious theme. Also many well- known classical composers have contributed to the sacred genre.

WIH Reporter: What will be the format of your class?

Gresik: The handout will contain a brief review of the religion(s) for the class, followed by a list of the pieces to be heard during the class & the composer, often with remarks about the composition itself. I hope to have you listening to the music more than hearing me talk.

WIH Reporter: We often like to ask what books are on your night table right now?

Gresik: Because my house flooded with Harvey, I have no night stand at present, but I am presently finishing reading The Evolution of God by Robert Wright, and because I’m in a graduate program at Rice & taking a course on Russian history & music, I’m researching the Russian Orthodox Church using The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware. On my Kindle the two most recent selections are: A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith & Glass Houses by Louise Penny.

WIH Reporter: Is there anything else about your class that you would like to add?

Gresik:  Because I want to introduce a number of pieces each week, the listening will be limited to 1-2 minutes each. You may want more, but if you don’t like the piece you won’t suffer long!

Professor Gresik’s class begins on October 18th at 1:00 p.m. For more information, or to register, click here.