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Filled with the spirit: The musical life of an Apostolic Pentecostal church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

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Title

Filled with the spirit: The musical life of an Apostolic Pentecostal church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Subject

Religion, Music

Description

This study explores the musical life of Alpha and Omega, an Apostolic Pentecostal church located in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. A member of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Alpha and Omega was founded in 1979, and its youthful constituency, which numbered about 300 at the time of this study, was predominantly African-American. During fieldwork conducted between 1989 and 1992, the researcher witnessed the congregation's move from its storefront location to a spacious, traditional sanctuary across town. The social and musical change occasioned by the move became an important focus of this study.

This ethnography seeks (1) to provide a holistic description of one church, with an emphasis upon its music and worship; (2) to study the relationship between music and Pentecostal belief, ritual, and language in that church; (3) to examine the effect which the church's move had upon the musical and ritual life of the congregation; and (4) to reflexively explore the relationship between the researcher and the institution studied.

The church's musical repertoire can be grouped into two principal strata. The choir selections and instrumental shout music of the more contemporary musical stratum are used by the church to cultivate its youthful image. The older, more traditional music includes congregational songs and hymns. This study examines melodic similarities in the congregational song repertoire and suggests the possibility of several tune families.

Pentecostal doctrine, ritual, and language are examined, both singly and in relation to the church's music. Speech and song both attest to the specialized and formulaic character of Pentecostal language, and a reservoir of favorite song texts clearly facilitates verbal performance among congregants. Song texts further provide a fundamental means of communicating the tenets of church doctrine. Pentecostals often advocate the need to be "flexible" and ready to follow the Holy Ghost's direction, and various forms of musical and ritual flexibility at Alpha and Omega help to validate the congregation's belief that individuals and worship services can be "Spirit-filled."

Date

1997

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No

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Citation

"Filled with the spirit: The musical life of an Apostolic Pentecostal church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #570, http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/570 (accessed May 23, 2022).

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File: Ward_dissertation.pdf

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