Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 311–321 | Cite as

Text and Tune, Speaking and Listening: Musical Resources in Pastoral Care

  • Carol L. Schnabl Schweitzer


This article examines the power of music to help transform suffering. It draws on insights from the work of music theorist David Schwarz (1997) that bridges psychoanalysis, music, and culture; and from Daniel Levitin’s (2008) work on music and human nature, especially as it pertains to religion, ritual and songs. Schwarz describes listening to music as a process of retrospective fantasy and as a type of transference experience. If how we listen to music is shaped by traces of past experiences, then music as a resource in pastoral care has the potential to assist ministers in the process of guiding their parishioners to re-trace painful experiences in ways that “re-sound” with thoughts and feelings which have become an impediment to healing. A “case study” in which the author was a “player” (or more accurately performer) is briefly examined, and the role of music in the lives of Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers (Lopez 2008) is explored to demonstrate how music—specifically religious music or song associated with religious ritual—is an overlooked resource for pastoral care. The article concludes with an illustration of how individuals’ personal associations with a hymn may have implications for pastoral care.


Daniel Levitin David Schwarz Steve Lopez Nathaniel Ayers Acoustical mirror Sonorous envelope Paranoid schizophrenia Listening subject Speaking subject Threshold crossing Ritual Song The Uncanny 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Union Presbyterian SeminaryRichmondUSA

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