“Da pacem, Domine”

Conference of the Cluster of Excellence on religious peace music from antiquity to the present day

© St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek/imslp.org

A conference of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” addresses peace in religious music. “Music has always been a central medium of the artistic engagement with the subject of ‘peace’,” explains musicologist Dr Dominik Höink, who invites to the conference “Religiöse Friedensmusik von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart” (Religious Peace Music from Antiquity to the Present Day) from 28 to 30 June. Whether as a sung prayer for peace as part of religious ceremonies, as a means of formulating a longing for peace or as part of celebrations after a peace agreement – there are countless examples from the most diverse cultural contexts and times that could be given.

According to Höink, the famous Gregorian antiphon “Da pacem, Domine” and the compositions based on it are exemplary of the topic, and so is “Dona nobis pacem” in musical renderings of Ordinaries, to name two examples from the Christian context. “At peace festivals, praise of God and thanksgiving were often combined with rejoicing over one’s own military successes, as written and iconographic sources even from pre-classical antiquity prove, but what quite a number of musical renderings of ‘Te Deum’ stand for,” says Dr Höink.

The conference takes place in cooperation with the University of Münster’s Institute for Musicology and Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and is sponsored by the Diocese of Münster. It addresses the artistic engagement with the topic of peace in the medium of religious music in a historical perspective from antiquity to the present, deliberately taking an open understanding of “peace music” as a basis. Both intra-compositional – mostly textual – peace references as well as context-related attributions, which result, for example, from the functionalisation for relevant celebrations, will be addressed. “Although the focus is on European music history and Christian tradition, phenomena in other cultures and religions will also be analysed,” according to Dr. Höink.

Focus: “Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day”

The topic of peace is at the centre of numerous research projects at the Cluster of Excellence. In the field of research “Religion and Violence” , members of the research association have been dealing with the relationship of religions to violence, war and peace for years. On the one hand, history shows that religions have brought peace and called for reconciliation, but on the other hand, they have also legitimised violence in their writings. Key research results have been presented in the exhibition “Peace. From Antiquity to the Present Day” at five locations in Münster and the conference of the “PEACE. Theories, Images and Strategies from Antiquity to the Present Day”. The Centre for Research Communication also publishes the research findings in a multimedia fashion on its focus web page “PEACE. From Antiquity to the Present Day”, which bundles texts, pictures and videos. (exc/sca/vvm)