How Music Can Help Words Gain Specificity

Nicholas Wolterstorff:

“The Christian liturgy is a sequence of actions: confession, proclamation of forgiveness, praise, and so forth. And works of art—passages of music, for example—can be more or less fitting to these distinct actions. What fits the action of confession well may be quite unfitting to the action of praise. Indeed, we can go farther. Many of the actions constituting the liturgy can be understood in a variety of different ways. And sometimes the music, by virtue of fitting closely one such understanding and only distantly certain others, lends specificity to the action and even to the words by which the action is accomplished.”

Art in Action, 116.

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