For centuries the interdisciplinary dyad of sermon and song has been in the toolkit of effective preachers. Yet scholarship on conjoined preaching and singing has been relatively sparse, despite the abundance of strong biblical, historical, and cultural warrants for its effectiveness as a means of proclamation. Seminary students have been known to graduate without ever seeing the synergistic combination of sermon and song in a preaching syllabus. With the help of musical analogue Theme and Variations, this essay illustrates a variety of ways this preaching method works for musical and “non-musical” users alike. It highlights the spiritual and cultural value of this blended form of preaching to communities of color, particularly in Black preaching traditions. Ultimately the article shows the need for preachers and teachers of preaching to more honestly engage with the values and needs of increasingly diverse students and congregations by giving the homiletical dyad of sermon and song a more conspicuous place among sermonic methods taught in seminaries and practiced in pulpits.

Author Biography

Catherine E. Williams is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship, and Director of Chapel Worship at Lancaster Theological Seminary. Williams is an ordained United Methodist Elder in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. Scholarly interests include the effective sermonic methods of underrepresented faith communities, the intersection of music and preaching, and deconstructing colonialist, hegemonic approaches to preaching and worship.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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