Reverend Jonathan Arnold, dean of divinity at Magdalen College, Oxford, has written about the “seeming paradox that, in today’s so-called secular society, sacred choral music is as powerful, compelling, and popular as it has ever been.”
But is this a paradox? Arguably, the power of this music derives from having been written by supremely talented, well-trained composers who just happened to live in a Christian tradition, writing mainly for the church. If the dominant religion over the past millennium had been atheist secularism, say, talented composers might still have written equally compelling music.
The same might also be true elsewhere in