Original Research

Healing liturgy: The role of music and singing

Coenie J. Calitz
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1628 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1628 | © 2017 Coenie J. Calitz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 April 2016 | Published: 31 May 2017

About the author(s)

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


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.


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


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