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Book description

Described by one contemporary as the 'sweet singer of The Temple', George Herbert has long been recognised as a lover of music. Nevertheless, Herbert's own participation in seventeenth-century musical culture has yet to be examined in detail. This is the first extended critical study to situate Herbert's roles as priest, poet and musician in the context of the musico-poetic activities of members of his extended family, from the song culture surrounding William Herbert and Mary Sidney to the philosophy of his eldest brother Edward Herbert of Cherbury. It examines the secular visual music of the Stuart court masque as well as the sacred songs of the church. Arguing that Herbert's reading of Augustine helped to shape his musical thought, it explores the tension between the abstract ideal of music and its practical performance to articulate the distinctive theological insights Herbert derived from the musical culture of his time.


‘This insightful and inviting book allows us to hear Herbert's musical world with fresh ears, attuned not only to individual imagination and pen but to the broader soundscape in which Herbert worked and thought. Simon Jackson's skillful approach offers new appreciation the profound impact of music on Herbert's poetry and, what is more, new and original understanding of Herbert's connections to the cultural orbits of his brother Edward (Lord of Cherbury), William Herbert and the Sidney family, Stuart masque culture, and more.’

Scott Trudell - University of Maryland

George Herbert and Early Modern Musical Culture is that rarest of things – a triumph of learned, insightful interdisciplinarity. Jackson writes with equal sensitivity on music, verse, and biography, and tunes all three into a beautiful critical consort. His book is a landmark achievement in the study of Herbert and of early seventeenth-century artistic culture – a must for every lover and scholar of Herbert and his circle.

Peter McCullough - University of Oxford

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