Férdia J. Stone-Davis

Published On


Page Range

pp. 73–86


  • English

Print Length

14 pages

4. An Adorative Posture towards Music and Spiritual Realities

In this chapter—employing the Anselmian dictum ‘faith seeking understanding’ as a cornerstone—I suggest that there is a certain parallel between the way of being, or ‘posture’, that is instilled in and through music, and the way of being that gives life to the pursuit of divine truth, one that might be called ‘adorative’. I suggest that music’s relationship to theological, religious, and spiritual realities is twofold. One, music can cultivate an adorative attitude that involves seeing more, hearing more (and being more), thereby offering a patterning that acts as a prolegomenon to the theological, religious, and spiritual enterprise. Two, in opening out onto ‘something more’, music may also reveal the very same realities that it guides us towards and prepares us to receive. Further to this, the chapter offers three practical considerations in relation to understanding the relationship between music and spiritual realities by means of the adorative. It resonates with the caution against attempts to delimit the relationship to any conceptually conclusive and general forms or rules. It moves us away from the understanding’s tendency to control and dominate the object of its attention towards an attitude or mode of being that allows the object of attention to be. It allows a coexistence of immanent (horizontal) and absolute (vertical) forms of transcendence.


Férdia J. Stone-Davis

Director of Research at the Margaret Beaufort Institute at University of Cambridge

Férdia Stone Davis is Senior Scientist for the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) Research Project, ‘The Epistemic Power of Music’, and Director of Research at the Margaret Beaufort Institute, Cambridge. She is the author of Musical Beauty: Negotiating the Boundary between Subject and Object (2011), editor of Music and Transcendence (2015), and co-editor, with M. J. Grant, of The Soundtrack of Conflict: The Role of Music in Radio Broadcasting in Wartime and in Conflict Situations (2013).