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date: 22 February 2020

Christian Church, music of the earlylocked

  • James W. McKinnon


The musical practices and attitudes of Christians from Apostolic times to the mid-5th century ce. The definition of early Christian music is broader than that of formal ecclesiastical chant. It embraces not only the psalmody of the Mass and Office but also the great variety of hymnody, psalmody, declamation and acclamation employed by Christians in any number of settings from eucharistic gatherings to night-time vigils. It includes, moreover, the hymns of heretical groups, and, finally, the attitudes of Christians towards every aspect of music, whether it be their own liturgical song, the diverse manifestations of pagan music or the classical philosophy and theory of music.

The choice of the mid-5th century as the date by which to limit the following discussion of early Christian music is appropriate for two reasons. First, by this time the golden age of patristic literature in both East and West had come to an end; eminent figures such as...

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Music & Letters
Early Music History
Musica disciplina
Annales musicologiques
Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft
Die Musikforschung
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Etudes grégoriennes
Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association
Current Musicology