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Music and Transcendence: Ascent to Glory


Greg Wilbur


Presented at the A Contemplation of Glory Conference 2021.

One music scholar describes J.S. Bach as seeing “the very substance of music as constituting a religious reality, that the more perfectly the task of composition (and, indeed, performance) is realized, the more God is immanent in music.” If music is a theological endeavor, how does that change our understanding of what music is and how to consider its purpose, structure, character, and its ultimate aim, or telos? How are we to understand the idea of immanence in sounds? We will explore the pre-enlightenment understanding of music, how music leads listeners to transcendence, and especially to the revealing and reveling in Divine glory.