Yet The Story of Christian Music by Andrew Wilson-Dickson stands out, especially as a resource for schools that recognize the importance of integrating various subject areas. Described as “An illustrated guide to all the major traditions of music in worship,” The Story is comprehensive in its scope and rich in its presentation. Yet it is made accessible by its author’s obvious love of his subject matter together with a teacher’s sense for what needs to be explained to those being newly introduced to the musical tradition of Christianity. Chapters, wisely limited to four or five pages, contain beautiful and intriguing illustrations, stories, and quotations from those who experienced the music. Wilson-Dickson places each kind of music or musical composer in living religious context by explaining the corresponding forms of worship and contemporary religious movements.
Although some of his comments reveal the author’s non-Catholic perspectives, The Story of Christian Music is still almost ideal for use in Catholic schools, especially as an important bridge between religion, history, music, and art. The music of any age or people tells so much about their tastes, their lives, who they were. This is especially true of the music of worship, which is often the highest, most sublime expression of a people’s spirit. Beginning with a description of the role of Psalms and chant in Jewish temple worship and ending with music of the Charismatic renewal, with stops in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America, The Story presents a great opportunity for deepening cultural understanding while developing a deep appreciation for the rich Christian musical tradition. Religion and social studies teachers could coordinate use of material from some of the chapters; sharing these presentations with the rest of the faculty would help deepen the entire community’s sense of its Catholic heritage.
You don’t have to take my word for it – Google offers an extensive previewof the book. I invite you to preview the book and imagine the possibilities.