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A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice

ISBN: 978-0-7879-8377-2
240 pages
April 2006, Jossey-Bass
A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice (0787983772) cover image


In this rich exploration of music, authors Don and Emily Saliers interweave their own stories as well as those of others to reflect on the what, the how, and the why of music as a key aspect of spirituality in our lives. As an Indigo Girl, folk-rock singer-songwriter, Emily performs in primarily secular settings, while her father, Don - composer, cantor, and church musician - writes and arranges for church congregations. Their audiences may differ but both father and daughter understand the profound spirituality of music and have personally witnessed how their music brings healing to people no matter what the setting or circumstance. A Song to Sing, A Life to Live bridges two generations, two approaches to spirituality, and two genres of music - the music of Saturday night and Sunday morning. Don and Emily Saliers reflect on such topics as music and justice, music and grief, music and delight, and music and hope. They open the way for those who seek to embrace new spiritual practices by creating music, sharing music, and developing their musical skills as a spiritual practice.
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Table of Contents

Editor’s Foreword ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix

Chapter 1 Tracing Our Songlines 1

Chapter 2 A Sound Spirituality 19

Chapter 3 My Life Flows On in Endless Song 39

Chapter 4 Do You Hear What I Hear? 55

Chapter 5 Becoming Who We Are Through Music 75

Chapter 6 Music Divides Us 97

Chapter 7 Singing Our Sorrow 115

Chapter 8 Sing Justice, Sing Freedom 133

Chapter 9 Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 153

Chapter 10 Music and the Search for God 169

References 183

The Authors 193

Index 195

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Author Information

Don Saliers is a professor of theology and worship at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and the author of nine books.

Emily Saliers is a member of the Indigo Girls, an award-winning folk-rock duo known for their vibrant music and social activism.

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"Saliers, a church musician and professor of theology and worship at Candler School of Theology, teams up with daughter Emily, one-half of the popular group the Indigo Girls.... Pull up a chair and sit in the family room as these two share the places where their views on music connect and diverge, demonstrating how to ‘make musical judgments, but not in a judgmental manner.’ Musicians, music-lovers and indeed all those devoted to the ‘spirituality of daily life’ will be inspired."
—Publishers Weekly

"I found warmth, wisdom, and love to be present on every page of this book. Emily and her father, Don, have found a way to have a deeply meaningful conversation about their life experiences and share it with the reader. The result is this beautiful expression of music as many things—healer, gift, symbol of freedom and community, and agent of change."
—Mary Chapin Carpenter

"Emily and her dad have created a beautiful celebration of how music and spirit connect us all."
—Bonnie Raitt

"In this sweetheart of a book, Don and Emily Saliers do far more than write convincingly about the healing power of music. They show us how it works by letting their own love of ‘deep song’ lead them across generational, aesthetic, and religious differences into a place of such holy listening to one another that even the angels lay down their tambourines."
—Barbara Brown Taylor, author, Bread of Angels, Home by Another Way, Gospel Medicine, The Preaching Life, God in Pain, and Speaking of Sin

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