For most first-time readers of the Iliad, especially traditional college-age undergraduates, Homer’s epic poem is a sudden plunge into strangeness. To immerse oneself in the competitive violence at the heart of Ancient Greek honor culture; in the repetitive, gruesome descriptions of battle-field deaths; or in the appalling practice of taking wartime concubines (the trophy-like status of Briseis alone in the opening dispute between Agamemnon and Achilles tends to bring out the sober moralism in even my most apathetic students). To immerse oneself in all of this is to be given a crash-course in the notion that the past is not just a foreign country, but a brutal one, too. Continue reading With God(s) on Our Side
In Concordia University Irvine’s Enduring Questions and Ideas (Q&I) curriculum, students take coursework that seeks to engage with big questions: What is Truth? What Does It Mean to be Human? How Shall I Live? As a member of the music faculty, I am frequently called to engage with the question of Why Art?
In the spirit of this question, this essay examines a setting of Jubilate Deo (Psalm 100) by the seventeenth-century Lutheran composer Heinrich Schütz, which was composed and published in the midst of the near-apocalyptic warfare and social upheaval of the Thirty Years’ War. The perspectives of historical, musical, and theological inquiry provide a glimpse into the circumstances that Schütz faced while composing this piece, and offer many parallels to modern day experiences and anxieties. Continue reading Why Art? Music, History, and Faith through the Eyes of Heinrich Schütz