John Calvin's Theology of Liturgical Song

Jeffrey T. VanderWilt

Psalm-singing in Calvin's theology and in the lived experience of Calvinist Christians protected the majesty of God even as it caused the Christian soul to cast all its care upon God in an absolute dependency. Jeffrey T. VanderWilt describes John Calvin's project of the Genevan Psalter. He seeks to understand the theological foundations of Calvin's theology of liturgical music and to locate those foundations in a theology of human religious experience. The project of the Psalter appears as a translation---into uniquely musical terms- --of Calvin's understanding of the human person as simultaneously fallen in sin and elect in Christ, what Mary P. Engel has termed his "perspectival anthropology." The singing of psalms is finally seen as one more spiritual exercise in the Calvinist repertoire, tuning the hearts of believers according to the pedagogy of the Holy Spirit. Mr. VanderWilt is a doctoral student in Liturgical Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

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Last Updated: December 20, 1995
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