College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Student Performances, Volume 3 Page: 8
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UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS'
COLLEGE OF SIC
A Doctoral Lecture
PATRICK W. DILL, choral conducting
Friday, June 1, 2012 3:00 pm Business Leadership Bldg 035
FROM RITUAL TO ART IN THE PURITAN MUSIC
OF COLONIAL NEW ENGLAND:
THE ANTHEMS OF WILLIAM BILLINGS
The manner in which Billings's music contrasts with the Puritan musical ideal clearly
demonstrates his role in the transition from ritual to art in the music of eighteenth-century
New England. The tenets of Puritan worship included the restriction that music should serve
primarily as a form of communal prayer for the congregation and in a secondary capacity
to assist in biblical instruction. Billings's stylistic independence from Puritan orthodoxy
began with a differing ideology concerning the purpose of music: whereas Calvin believed
music merely provided a means for the communal deliverance of biblical text, Billings
recognized music for its inherent aesthetic worth. Billings's shift away from the Puritan
musical heritage occurred simultaneously with considerable change in New England in the
last three decades of the eighteenth century. A number of Billings's works depict the events
of the Revolutionary War, frequently adapting scriptural texts for nationalistic purposes. The
composition of occasional works to commemorate religious and civic events reflects both
the increase in society's approval of choral music beyond its nominal use in worship, both in
singing schools and in choirs. With his newfound independence from Puritan ritual, Billings
seems to have declared himself one of the United States of America's first musical artists.
Presented in partial fulfillment of the degree
Doctor of Musical Arts - MUGC 6954.704
One thousand sixty-fifth program of the 2011-2012 season.
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University of North Texas. College of Music. College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Student Performances, Volume 3, book, 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc114728/m1/8/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Music Library.