Abstracts of Recent SWBTS School of Church Music Doctoral Dissertations


Artistic Theologian 2 (2013): 103–105

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The Mission of Worship: A Critique of and Response to the Philosophy of Culture, Contextualization, and Worship of the North American Missional Church Movement

Scott Michael Aniol, PhD

The North American missional church movement has significantly affected the way evangelical churches view all areas of ministry, including worship. The purpose of this dissertation is to survey the history, literature, and theology of the missional church movement in order to evaluate its impact upon evangelical worship theology and practice in North America. After ascertaining common principles guiding missional worship today, the study assesses the strengths of this worship development and reveals weaknesses in three primary areas: the nature of culture, the posture of contextualization, and the relationship between worship and evangelism. Following this process, the dissertation argues that biblically regulated, gospel-shaped corporate worship that communicates God’s truth through appropriate cultural forms will actually have the most missional impact.

After an introductory chapter, chapter 2 surveys the history of the missional church movement and identifies its theological distinctives as (1) missionary imperative, (2) twenty-first-century western postmodernism as the missionary context, and (3) the incarnational mode of mission. Chapter 3 synthesizes discussion of worship in missional literature and reveals the influence of these theological distinctives on the missional philosophy of worship, specifically identifying cultural contextualization as a key component in worship methodology. Chapter 4 explores the roots of missional ideas of culture and contextualization, revealing them to be founded upon anthropological assumptions and a Neo-Kuyperian philosophy of contextualization.

Chapters 5–7 present a counter-perspective on issues of culture, contextualization, worship, and mission. Chapter 5 presents a biblical understanding of culture and contextualization by arguing that culture is essentially behavior. Chapter 6 defines worship in terms of the gospel and reveals that a biblical perspective understands that the gospel creates worshipers and not the other way around. Chapter 7 argues that cultural form is integral to the presentation of biblical truth and that every aspect of corporate worship, including its forms, must be regulated by Scripture. Finally, Chapter 8 draws conclusions and applications from the critique and response, followed by discussion of challenges and further areas of research needed.


A Conductor’s Study of the Compositional Style of Dan Forrest As Illustrated by Analyses of in Paradisum… and Te Deum

John Cornish, DMA

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, Dan Forrest has become an important figure in the field of choral composition. Since there seems to be an ever-widening quality gap between that which is composed primarily for commercial distribution and that which is composed for artistic purposes, Forrest’s works are garnering a great deal of attention for having both mass appeal and intrinsic artistic value. Likewise, Forrest is doing much to bridge the artistic gap between concert music and that which is intended primarily for utilitarian use in the church.

This document contains a choral conductor’s evaluation and study of Forrest’s compositional style as illustrated through analyses of two of his large choral/orchestral works: in paradisum… and Te Deum (We Praise Thee, O God). Chapter one consists of introductory material, including Forrest’s biographical information and an overview of in paradisum… and Te Deum. Chapter two contains an overview of Forrest’s compositional development as seen through a brief analysis of several smaller works composed during the first decade of his career. Chapter three—a discussion of musical form and composition construction—contains an analysis of the formal elements of the two works. It also examines Forrest’s views on melodic and harmonic elements as well as how he negotiates the complicated relationship between music and text. Chapter four focuses on Forrest’s philosophy of melodic usage and contains an analysis of the melodic content in both works. The final chapter contains performance considerations based on the analysis of in paradisum… and Te Deum, a discussion of issues related to the conductor’s role in the preparation of the works, and a brief evaluation of Forrest’s works in relation to their use in various choral settings.


Singing in San Francisco: Cultivating Choral Music from the Gold Rush to the 1906 Earthquake

Ellen Olsen George, PhD

Choral music in San Francisco flourished from the city’s earliest days. Ensembles, societies, and clubs were formed by both amateur and professional singers, conductors, and teachers. These community-generated groups revealed a desire among immigrants to establish a cultural center in the western United States. This dissertation documents the growth, decline, and continual renewal of choral groups in San Francisco until the 1906 earthquake. An appendix lists choral works performed from 1852 to 1906.

The earliest ad hoc choral groups were initiated by touring vocalists, Elisa Biscaccianti and Anna Bishop, but more permanent groups were begun, including the San Francisco Philharmonic Society’s singing section from 1853 to 1855 by George Loder, and the San Francisco Harmonic Society by Rudolph Herold from 1857 to 1860. Early performances included Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Haydn’s Creation. German groups included the Sängerbund, Turn Verein, Eintracht, and the San Francisco Mannerchor who contributed to local premieres of David’s Le Désert and Weber’s Der Freischütz.

The Handel and Haydn Society of San Francisco performed mainly sacred works from 1861 through 1890. Its many directors included Gustav Scott, George T. Evans, and John P. Morgan. Camilla Urso collaborated with the society and region-wide groups in her 1869 Grand Musical Festival. Similar events were given in 1883 and 1885 by Theodore Thomas and in 1889 by Patrick S. Gilmore. Carl Zerrahn contributed to San Francisco’s 1878 May festival. Beginning in 1877, the Loring Club and the Schumann Club in 1884 performed madrigals, part-songs, and larger works such as Schumann’s Der Rose Pilgerfahrt.

The Oratorio Society of San Francisco, led by Jacob H. Rosewald from 1885 to 1887, and the San Francisco Oratorio Society, led by James H. Howe from 1895 to 1899, offered works including Mendelssohn’s Elijah , Gounod’s Rédemption (with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1896), and Dudley Buck’s The Light of Asia. Howe also began similar oratorio societies in Oakland, San Jose, Marysville, and Sacramento in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The Apollo Choral Society with director Henry B. Pasmore presented with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra the 1898 local premiere of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.


Imaging God in Private and Corporate Worship:
The Imago Dei as a Divine Call to All Believers

David M. Toledo, PhD

This dissertation seeks to synthesize the fields of worship studies, biblical anthropology, and Trinitarian theology to develop a new understanding of the imago Dei and provide a new metaphor for the worship of the church.  Chapter 1 provides an overview of the issues and argues for the necessity and the benefit of such an endeavor.

Chapter 2 examines the pertinent texts in both the Old and New Testaments that provide the seminal references to the image of God in humanity.  Following a summary of the three primary interpretive approaches to biblical anthropology, this chapter establishes a vocational interpretation.

Chapter 3 draws conclusions regarding the relationship between the image of God in humanity and Christ’s role as the true Imago Dei.  Spiritual formation is the natural result of this relationship and baptism both symbolizes and enacts this union.

Chapter 4 studies Trinitarian theology and seeks to draw conclusions regarding image bearing in community.  The celebration of the Lord’s Supper typifies this human counterpart of the Trinitarian life in community.

Chapter 5 applies the vocational call to image bearing to the various ministries of the church including liturgy, ethics, and mission.