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Original Research

Healing liturgy: The role of music and singing

Coenie J. Calitz

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 38, No 1 (2017), 9 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v38i1.1628

Submitted: 21 April 2016
Published:  31 May 2017


Apart from all the other functions of liturgical singing and music, it also has a pastoral function or aim. Within the normal Sunday-to-Sunday liturgy, singing and music aims at promoting and restoring spiritual well-being. Within communities struck by disaster or grief, liturgical singing aims at healing people and processing their loss and ultimately promoting spiritual wellness by restoring or reshaping their picture of God. A brief look at liturgies in a lamenting congregation by means of an autoethnography illustrates the functional use of music and singing in the process of spiritual or emotional healing, thus illustrating the role of music in worship as an in-between experience: between laughter and lament.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article explores the role of music and singing in healing liturgy in a descriptive way, using ethnography and autoethnography to describe the process. Although the article refers to insights from pastoral therapy, it only makes suggestions for liturgy and in a lesser sense, hymnology.

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Author affiliations

Coenie J. Calitz, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


Liturgy; liturgical singing; congregational singing; pastoral singing; healing;


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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