Citing obedience to the fifth commandment, music professor Calvin Stapert quotes Karl Barth to illustrate the point: 'Honour father and mother!.the same kind of obedience is demanded of you towards the Church's past, towards the 'elders' of the Church.' Stapert contends that the roots of most contemporary thinking about music 'is truncated and twisted' by naturalistic Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thought. He advocates a retrieval of ancestral voices to (quoting C.S. Lewis) 'keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds.' Beginning with a foundational chapter on music in the New Testament, he presents a chapter each on Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian-Greek and Latin counterparts who upheld very different views on the inclusion of Greek philosophy in Church music and doctrine. Sts. Ambrose and John Chrysostom also have a chapter each, followed by a discussion of what these fathers collectively rejected and affirmed in terms of musical choices and thought. Stapert's chapter on Augustine narrows in on Book X of the Confessions
, in which Augustine wrestles with the sensual pleasures, particularly the pleasures of the ears. In corroboration with the fathers, Stapert advocates a return to whole readings of the Psalms in both communal and private life and concludes with a thought-provoking chapter that suggests the contemporary church build on the musical imagery of the early Church rather than the trends of popular culture. 232 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
Even as worship wars in the church and music controversies in society at large continue to rage, many people do not realize that conflict over music goes back to the earliest Christians as they sought to live out the "new song" of their faith. In A New Song for an Old World Calvin Stapert challenges contemporary Christians to learn from the wisdom of the early church in the area of music. Stapert draws parallels between the pagan cultures of the early Christian era and our own multicultural realities, enabling readers to comprehend the musical ideas of early Christian thinkers, from Clement and Tertullian to John Chrysostom and Augustine. Stapert's expert treatment of the attitudes of the early church toward psalms and hymns on the one hand, and pagan music on the other, is ideal for scholars of early Christianity, church musicians, and all Christians seeking an ancient yet relevant perspective on music in their worship and lives today.