Music and Spirituality: Theological Approaches, Empirical Methods, and Christian Worship - cover image


George Corbett; Sarah Moerman. Copyright of individual chapters are maintained by the chapter author(s).




  • English


  • AVLK
  • AVLA
  • AVA
  • QRVJ1


  • AVA
  • AVGD
  • HRCR


  • MUS048000
  • MUS048010
  • REL055000


  • Spiritual
  • Western culture
  • Christianity
  • Musicology
  • Ethnomusicology
  • Neuroscience

    Music and Spirituality

    Theological Approaches, Empirical Methods, and Christian Worship

    The composer Sir James MacMillan has often referred to music as ‘the most spiritual of the arts’, and for many people, regardless of religious affiliation, this rings true. In listening to music, we are drawn to dimensions of human experience beyond the material. This collection brings together leading scholars from various disciplines – including Christian theology, musicology, and psychology and neuroscience – to interrogate the intimate relationship between music and spirituality.

    Organised in three parts – theological approaches, empirical methods, and Christian worship – the volume covers a vibrant array of topics. From examining how the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the profile of contemporary worship to investigating the spiritual effects of bodily positioning in liturgical spaces, from exploring spiritual experience through heart and breathing activity, electrodermal activity, and saliva samples to comparing the spiritual experiences of British Methodists with Welsh sporting fans, these essays attend to the lived reality of people’s perceived spiritual experiences through music.

    This collection will be an invaluable resource for scholars in the growing field of Christian theology and music, and will serve as a cornerstone for future research at the intersection of theology, music, and psychology and neuroscience. It will also appeal to anyone curious about why music consistently, across cultures, occupies a unique space bridging the material and spiritual dimensions of human life.


    George Corbett

    Professor of Theology, School of Divinity at University of St Andrews

    George Corbett is Professor of Theology, School of Divinity, University of St Andrews. He teaches and researches in theology and the arts and in historical theology, and he co-directs the University’s MLitt in Sacred Music. He is the author of Dante and Epicurus (2013) and Dante’s Christian Ethics (2020); co-editor, with Heather Webb, of Vertical Readings in Dante’s ‘Comedy’, 3 vols (2015, 2016, 2017); and editor of Annunciations: Sacred Music for the Twentieth Century (2019).

    Sarah Moerman

    Research Fellow in Theology and Music at University of St Andrews

    Dr Sarah Moerman is Research Fellow in Theology and Music, University of St Andrews. Her PhD ‘Composing Christ’s Passion’ examined the musical and theological approaches to the Passion Settings of James MacMillan, Arvo Pärt, and John Adams. She is co-director of the Templeton-funded Music and Spiritual Realities research project.