Christian Worship in the Reformation


Table of Contents

Course Information

Christian Worship in the Reformation
College Department of Music
University of Rochester
MUR 137 (CRN 85419)/REL 137 (CRN 85690)/MHS 282 (CRN 85662)
Spring 2019
4.0 (3.0 for MHS 282) credits
Prerequisites: None


Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:05 a.m.–12:20 p.m. Dewey B-315

Instructor Information


Andrew A. Cashner, PhD
Assistant professor of music
Office: Dewey 1-318
(585) 275-4180
Office hours: Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to noon, or by appointment

Course Materials

  1. All readings and listening examples will be made freely available online through this website or Blackboard.
  2. You will need some kind of electronic device (computer, tablet, phone) for accessing course materials online during class.

Course Description

This course equips students to understand the key role of music in shaping the new identities and beliefs of the Christian communities that emerged from the Reformations of the sixteenth century: Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, including colonial societies around the globe. We will study the link between faith, music, and community in Lutheran chorales and Puritan psalms, Palestrina’s masses and J. S. Bach’s Passions, and music from colonial Latin America. In light of theological literature of the time we will study how music served as a form of ritual and prayer for communities and individuals. This historical knowledge will enable students to understand the roots of living traditions of Christian worship today. No musical or theological background required.

Learning Goals

This course equips students to achieve the following learning goals:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the different theologies and practices of worship in the four major traditions of Christianity that emerged from the Reformation: Lutheran, Calvinist/Reformed, Anglican, and Roman Catholic:
    1. Know what their ritual and musical practices were.
    2. Understand their theological beliefs about music and worship.
    3. Understand how those beliefs intersect with the core beliefs that distinguish each tradition from the others; and what beliefs were held in common across confessional boundaries.
    4. Understand and think critically about the relationship between belief and practice in these traditions, on the basis of specific examples such as hymns and choral music.
  2. Develop skills in research, writing, and presentation through group and individual research projects.
  3. Develop a critical theoretical perspective and knowledge base that will enable you to appreciate and engage with diverse beliefs and practices.

The focus of the course is historical knowledge and cross-cultural understanding. It is not a goal of this course to persuade you to agree with any theological beliefs or follow any ritual practices. This course will take a neutral position regarding the truth-claims of all religious traditions.


Please see the more detailed information on the assignments page.

  1. Weekly writing assignments
  2. Exams
    1. Midterm
    2. Final with take-home essay
  3. Group Research Presentation: Hymn Project (group grade)
  4. Analysis/Interpretation Paper (individual grade)
  5. Ethnography in Historical Context (individual grade)

To fulfill the university’s accreditation requirements for credit hours, there is additional work outside of the classroom included in the planned workload for this course. Most of the time this additional work constitutes a larger amount of reading than might otherwise be assigned; other times it may include group work or library research.


Task Value
Weekly writing 10 %
Exams 40 %
Hymn Project 20 %
Interpretation/Analysis Paper 10 %
Ethnography 20 %
TOTAL 100 %


Staying in Contact

Please check both the Blackboard site and your e-mail every day for announcements from this class. Make sure you have configured Blackboard to send announcements and site changes to your e-mail address, and make sure you have your university e-mail set up so that you can check it easily. You may contact me through my e-mail (listed at the beginning of the syllabus), and I will respond as soon as I can during normal business hours. Be advised that I may not be able to respond to e-mails on evenings, weekends, or holidays until the start of the next business day.

Official office hours are listed at the beginning of the syllabus. You do not need an appointment; please just drop by. If someone else is already there, just knock or say hello so I know you are waiting and I’ll make sure there is time for you. I am also available by appointment: e-mail me or ask me after class and we’ll find a time. I am here to help you and I want the opportunity to get to know you!

Coming to Class and Getting Involved

I will take attendance at every class. You will learn best if you come to every class and get involved as fully as you can in whatever we are doing in the classroom. That involvement starts before you come to class as you prepare each class session’s listening and reading assignments, as you write in your listening journal, and as you do your other coursework alone and with your classmates.

You can find the detailed listings, including links to online texts and music, by clicking on the heading for each class session on the schedule page. You are expected listen to and read all of the assigned material before you come to class that day.

Electronic Devices, Keeping Focus, and Building Connections

The materials for this course will all be available online through this site and Blackboard, so you will need to have a way to access this material in class. Phones can work, but a larger screen will be useful. It is certainly possible to look on with classmates. In-class group work will also require internet access for research. If the use of electronic devices in class presents a hardship for you, please let me know and we can find a solution.

Since we will be using devices in class, you must find a way to keep focus by eliminating distractions on the devices (e.g., turning off notifications). We all must make every effort, with devices or not, to connect with each other as human beings, making eye contact, listening actively, and being mentally present to each other.

Turning in Assignments

Please turn in assignments through the electronic submission portal on Blackboard. Submit PDF files only. I will not accept assignments via e-mail, hard copy, or in any format other than PDF.

Use a basic 12-point font, double spaced, with one-inch margins on all sides. Be sure to include your name and the name and date of the assignment.

Assignments are due on the date listed in the syllabus. Assignments turned in after that time will be considered late (Blackboard tracks this automatically), and a penalty will be deducted from the grade (minus one letter grade for each day late). Unless you arrange an extension with me in advance, which I must confirm in writing, I will not accept assignments more than four days after the original due date.

I will only arrange makeups for exams in exceptional circumstances such as a documented health or family emergency.

Every member of a group must be present in class on the day of a presentation unless you make arrangements with me in advance, confirmed in writing.

Building a Supportive Classroom Community

It is my goal to build a safe, welcoming, and encouraging classroom community for every student, and I invite you to join me in working toward that goal. I and my colleages in the Department of Music are fully committed to preventing any kind of harassment or discrimination. The following is an excerpt from the university’s official statement on this issue:

The University of Rochester seeks to provide a setting that respects the contributions of all the individuals composing its community, that encourages intellectual and personal development, and that promotes the free exchange of ideas.

To ensure nondiscrimination and equal opportunity, the University prohibits and will not engage in discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, military/veteran status, national origin, race, religion/creed, sex, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by law. The University also prohibits retaliation and will not retaliate against any person who makes a complaint of discrimination or harassment on the basis on a protected status or who provides information or otherwise participates in a investigation of such a complaint.

If you believe you have been discriminated against or harassed due to your protected status, you have several options for how to respond.

These options are listed on the university’s Equal Opportunity website.

Feedback for Improvement

There will be opportunities throughout the course for you to give feedback anonymously on your learning experience, in addition to the university’s student-evaluation process at the end of the semester. If you have any ideas for how this course could be improved, if you perceive any obstacles to your learning, or if you need any kind of accommodation to help your learning, please take advantage of these opportunities to let me know. Otherwise please feel free to speak to me or e-mail me directly and I will do the best I can to help you.

My supervisor is Prof. Honey Meconi, Chair of the Music Department.

University Policies

Accommodating Disabilities

Your success in this course is important to me, and every University of Rochester classroom respects and welcomes students of all backgrounds and abilities. I encourage you to talk with me about any concern or situation that affects your ability to complete your academic work successfully. If you require accommodations for a documented disability, or need to have a disability documented, please contact the Office of Disability Resources: 1-154 Dewey Hall,, (585) 275-9049. Please notify me, or have the disability office notify me, of any needed accommodations as early as possible in the semester or it will become more difficult to make the necessary adjustments.

Academic Integrity

All assignments and activities associated with this course must be performed in accordance with the University of Rochester’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Academic honesty means avoiding anything that would unfairly advance your academic standing over that of your classmates, such as cheating on an exam or presenting someone else’s work as your own. Plagiarism includes any verbatim copying; unattributed, incorrectly attributed, false, or misleading citations; or unacknowledged help from others (e.g., having someone else write a paper for you).

Group assignments will include specific additional instructions about how to comply with the Academic Honesty Policy in your collaborative work. If you are not sure whether something counts as plagiarism or academic dishonesty, I can help you if you ask me about it before turning in the assignment.