Christopher Page: The Christian West and its Singers

Tuesday 1 December 2020
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Christopher Page:
The Christian West and its Singers: The First Thousand Years

The Art of Music was commissioned to typeset the music examples for Dr Christopher Page's latest work. The monophonic examples cover a range of secular and sacred music over many centuries.

Book Description

The tradition of Western music has become the most influential in the world. Western notions of melody and harmony have been spread far afield, first by a process of conquest and colonization that began in the Middle Ages, and later by the global influence of technologies – especially those of mass communication – that were developed in Europe and America.

In a vast number of different cultures, children are set to study Occidental musical instruments, such as the piano or violin, to approach the performance of works by the 'Great Composers'.

The Christian West and its Singers: The First Thousand Years is the first attempt to trace the rise and consolidation of singers and their art in the Christian West. It begins in the New Testament period and ends in twelfth-century Europe when churches, hospitals and monasteries shared a body of vocal music, including Gregorian Chant, that was sung hour by hour, day by day, from Ireland to the first crusading kingdoms in the Levant.

The history of the singers who performed it is here placed against the social, political and economic life of a Western Europe slowly being remade after the collapse of Roman power. The unfolding story, with its generous illustrations, will be of interest to historians, musicologists, performing musicians and the general reader keen to explore the beginnings of Western musical art.


'The range of primary and secondary sources cited is phenomenal, and all of it has obviously been mastered – quite astonishing. 'The Christian West and its Singers' aims to be definitive book on the subject and surely will be.'

Joseph Dyer, University of Massachusetts, Boston

'Dr Page attempts, and triumphantly succeeds in his attempt, to write not merely a technical or even liturgical, but also a social and cultural history of Western church music in the first millennium of its existence. All aspects are integrated into a seamless narrative that has no competitor, and that few other scholars can ever be qualified to emulate.'

Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Oxford

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