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Jonas Westover

(b Washington, DC, Nov 21, 1947). American hymn writer and seminary professor. She grew up studying piano, then focused on religious studies as an undergraduate at Southwestern at Memphis University, later called Rhodes College (BA 1969). She earned advanced degrees from Chicago Theological Seminary (MDiv 1973, DD 1983), the University of Notre Dame (MA 1987), and Boston University (DD 1989). She was ordained by the United Church of Christ in 1974 and served at various churches until accepting the position of professor of worship at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1989. Having written songs as a child, she became interested in writing hymn texts in the mid-1970s. She has written nearly 200 poem-texts, including “Arise, your Light Has Come,” “O Loving Maker of the Earth,” and “When we are Tested,” most of which have appeared in various hymnals and edited collections. Some of her texts have been designed for special occasions, such as “Send us your Spirit” for the ...

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Kathleen Sewright

(b Peoria, IL, July 14, 1939). American jesuit priest, educator, and composer. Best known for the post–Vatican II Catholic liturgical congregational music he composed as one of the “St. Louis Jesuits” in the 1960s and 70s, Foley is nevertheless primarily an educator in the field of liturgy. He earned a PhD in Theology (specialty in Liturgy and Aesthetics) from Graduate Theological Union (1993); studied music at the University of Wichita and St. Louis University; and pursued further composition studies with Samuel Dolin, Reginald Smith Brindle, Paul Fetler, and Dominick Argento.

In addition to founding and serving as the director of the St. Louis University Center for Liturgy, Foley has taught liturgy among other courses at the university. His diverse publications include a book, Creativity and the Roots of Liturgy (Pastoral Press, 1994). His dedication to writing prayerful, scripture-based, and accessible vernacular liturgical music for assemblies led naturally to his founding of the National Liturgical Composers Forum....

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(b Shoah, Ethiopia, 1949). Ethiopian singer, church musician, and liturgical scholar, naturalized American. Seyoum began studying music at the age of eight and attended various religious schools in his homeland. As he grew older, he began to learn new types of performance, including the Bethlehem style of singing, Christian chant, and sacred dance. At 17 years of age, he was already named a quanygeta, or “leader of the right hand side,” an important position among Ethiopian church musicians (also called dabrata). He quickly rose from deacon to marigeta, the leader of the musicians. He spent ten years in Greece learning more about liturgical practices and then came to the United States in 1982. Seyoum settled in Alexandria, Virgina, and joined the Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Church in Washington, DC. He became a leader there, and his remarkable musical skills have led to the preservation of many traditional elements of the Ethiopian Christian tradition in America. To codify and disseminate these practices, Seyoum released a six-CD set of liturgical materials. He has memorized the entirety of the Ethiopian Psalter (Dawit) and has intimate knowledge of other sacred books, such as the Ethiopian Hymnary. Seyoum is an expert of instrumental church practices, including those that are tied to the extremely complicated notational system from Ethiopia that includes more than 600 symbols. He is also the only living master of the prayer staff and its movements (an art called ...