The Revd Dr Jonathan Arnold

Diocese of Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral
University of Kent

Presenter Profile

Jonathan is a priest, musician, and author. He is currently Executive Director of the Social Justice Network in the Diocese of Canterbury, which has a portfolio that evolves in response to times of crises and includes migration and refugees, social issues of debt, hunger, homelessness, modern slavery and exploitation, the rehabilitation of ex-offenders and rural justice. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent, an Associate of Sidney De Hahn Centre for Arts and Health, Christ Church Canterbury University, and sings professionally with ensembles such as The Sixteen, Orlando Consort, Ora, and The Gabrieli Consort.

Jonathan was formerly Dean of Divinity and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was tutor in ecclesiastical history and chair of examiners for the theology faculty. He has also been Chaplain and Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College. In 2014 he co-founded a new girl choristers’ choir for Oxford, Frideswide Voices. He has published widely. His latest book is The Everyday God: Encountering the Divine through the Works of Mercy (2024). Other books include Music and Faith: Conversations in a Post-Secular Age (2019); Sacred Music in Secular Society (2014); The Great Humanists (2011) and Dean John Colet of St. Paul’s (2007).

Spiritual Realities

Innovations in Anglican Choral Music Research

Recent research has revealed not only the continued growth of interest in traditional western sacred music but also the development of new initiatives that respond to people’s desire to experience spirituality through music. For example, the work of Kathryn King and Hanna Rijken has demonstrated, through empirical research, why Choral Evensong in the Anglican tradition appeals to so many, and exactly who is attending and listening to these services, both in England and, perhaps surprisingly, in the Netherlands, where Choral Evensong is a popular ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ expression of worship with a burgeoning English-style choral tradition in progress. Speaking from my own perspective as an Anglican priest and musician in the classical tradition, in this talk I will explore how these trends in Choral Evensong have been mapped and what conclusions have been drawn using both quantitative and qualitative data. In addition, my own research through the ‘Experience of Music’ project, as well as analysis of non-liturgical or quasi-liturgical settings of both choral and instrumental classical music, have shown that there are social, ethical, and spiritual benefits to music experience. Such spiritual experience through music can point towards, and even reveal, a reality beyond our everyday human materiality.

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