Singing the Right Way: Orthodox Christians and Secular Enchantment in Estonia

ISBN : 9780199332137

Jeffers Engelhardt
296 Pages
162 x 236 mm
Pub date
Jan 2015
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Singing the Right Way enters the world of Orthodox Christianity in Estonia to explore the significance of musical style in worship, cultural identity, and social imagination. Through a series of ethnographic and historical chapters, author Jeffers Engelhardt focuses on how Orthodox Estonians give voice to the religious absolute in secular society to live Christ-like lives. Approaching Orthodoxy through local understandings of correct practice and correct belief, Engelhardt shows how religious knowledge, national identity, and social transformation illuminate in the work of singing: how to "sing the right way" and thereby realize the fullness of their faith. In some parishes, this meant preserving a local, Protestant-influenced tradition of congregational singing from the 1920s and 30s. In others, it meant adapting Byzantine melodies and vocal styles encountered abroad. In still others, it meant continuing a bilingual, multi-ethnic Estonian-Russian oral tradition despite ecclesiastical and political struggle. Based on a decade of fieldwork and singing in choirs, Singing the Right Way traces the sounds of Orthodoxy in Estonia through the Russian Empire, interwar national independence, the Soviet-era, and post-Soviet integration into the European Union to describe the dynamics of religion and secularity in singing style and repertoire - what Engelhardt calls secular enchantment. Ultimately, Singing the Right Way is an innovative model of how the musical poetics of contemporary religious forms are rooted in both sacred tradition and the contingent ways individuals inhabit the secular. This landmark study is sure to be an essential text for scholars studying the ethnomusicology of religion.


Table of Contents
About the Companion Website
Track Listing
Part 1
Chapter 1 - Orthodoxy in Estonia, Estonian Orthodoxy
Chapter 2 - Right Singing: The Voice of Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
Chapter 3 - "Today is an important day here, the birthday of our own religion": Festivity
and the Secular Enchantments of Right Singing
Part 2
Chapter 4 - "Every bird has its own song": Congregational Singing and the Making of
Estonian Orthodoxy
Chapter 5 - Songs of Commemoration and Continuity
Part 3
Chapter 6 - "Life is so simple to live when the corridor you are to walk down has already
been made": Byzantification and Conversion at the Cathedral of Saint Simeon and the Prophetess Hanna
Chapter 7 - "We are people of the country, but we worship and Russian-type God":
Singing the Right Way in Setomaa

About the author: 

Jeffers Engelhardt is an Assistant Professor of Music at Amherst College. A graduate of the University of Chicago and Oberlin College, his research deals broadly with music, religion, European identity, and media. His second book, a co-edited volume titled Resounding Transcendence: Transitions in Music, Religion, and Ritual, will also be published by Oxford University Press.

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