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2020 Reading of the Sacred Texts Lecture with Kathryn Barush
‘Shield, help, & bring to joy': Pilgrimage through sacred song
The event will also be livestreamed on the GTU's YouTube page.
This lecture explores the healing, protective, and mnemonic capacity of music as used in the context of religious pilgrimage. In the 12th century, Godric, known as ‘the Hermit saint of Finchale’, gave up his life as a merchant seaman to embark on a lengthy pilgrimage. He eventually settled in Durham, England, where he befriended wild animals and lived an ascetic and contemplative life. He had mystical visions that prophesized the murder of Thomas Becket, to whom he served as an advisor. At another time, the Virgin Mary gave Godric a hymn to be used when healing or protection was sought. The music was recorded on paper and bound into manuscripts at points where his vision is recounted.
Recently, Guy Hayward and Will Parsons, who co-founded the British Pilgrimage Trust in 2014, have been traveling with Godric’s Marian hymn and others, singing the songs in community as part of interreligious ritual praxis. Art historical and ethnographic methods are employed in order to posit a trans-temporal approach to Victor and Edith Turner’s idea of communitas-through-culture, which serves to highlight the integral role of music in translating the pilgrimages of the past into the present. Music, I argue, can be understood as ‘Canterbury water’ for the 21st century.
GTU PhD students Stefan Andre Waligur and Rev. Gideon M. M'Imwonyo-Mbui along with JST staff members Paul Kircher and Mary Beth Lamb will lead the community in chanting the oldest English-language hymn as part of the evening's festivities.
Kathryn Barush is the Thomas E. Bertelsen Jr. Associate Professor of Art History and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. She received her doctorate in the History of Art from the University of Oxford and has held previous positions at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and at the Yale Center for British Art. She is the author of Art and the Sacred Journey in Britain, 1790 – 1950. Her book, Imaging Pilgrimage: Contemporary Art as Embodied Experience (London: Bloomsbury Visual Culture), is forthcoming.