The diversity of practice in creative expressions of religious identity


Key points on art and music

Art and music are used widely by Christians.

It gives an expression to their religious beliefs, it is a form of expression in Christian worship and is an aid to prayer and spiritual reflection.

Artists and composers believe their work reflects the gifts given to them from God and their work is a sense of gratititude and praise.

However, figurative representations sare forbidden within some religions such as Islam or Judaism. 

1 of 7

The Nativity

The nativity scenes emphasises:

  • An expression of belief in incarnation.
  • The poverty of the surroundings Jesus was born in. This emphasises how Jesus places no value on human riches and powers and that he went through an ordinary birth.
  • Jesus's divinity is reflected by the nativity as there were many angels with the adoration of the shepherds and wise men which is often portrayed in art work. The wise men brought expensive gifts such as gold, frankincense and myrrh. Myrrh was used to annoint the dead and this shows the prediction of Jesus's death.
2 of 7

The crucifixion

Imagery in art of the crucifixion demonstrates how Jesus's death was sacraficial.

The cross has become the main image to represent his death as it shows Jesus's suffering, the cross without any image indicates the belief of the ressurection of Jesus.

Titan is an artist that has painted the crucifixion. He uses many different types of symbols to represent everything about Jesus.

For example, he uses a bright light above Jesus's head and this indicates his purity and divinity. He also uses female worshippers crying on the floor which shows how Jesus was representing equality by allowing females to follow him. There is also bright clouds in the sky which could represent howe Jesus was taken to God and ascended.

3 of 7

Christian Devotion

The imagery of the nativity and the crucifixion is a key role in Chrsistian devotion. The nativity helps to teach children about how Jesus came to life and what role he has to play in Christianity. All churches also use a cross and sometimes carve jesus in it which acts as a constant reminder that Jesus saved us from our sins. 

The use of images allows us to reflect on the view that we are able to reflect on his life and try live life according to how he lived. 

Catholic church says that the images are venterated and not worshipped, meaning it was only given honour to it. The catechism also links ideas to how images reflect the belief in the incarnation.

However, criticisms of it would be that images are very subjective and this could make people interpret it differently and could be believing in the wrong thing. Also, art work is subjective to the artist and so the views of the artist can be enflicted upon someone else. However, art had helped many people who were illiterate to understand the key ideas in Christianity.

4 of 7

Music in Christian worship

Music is used to express the feelings in the presence of God. 

As well as art, music can be used to express the celebration of God's creation and can invoke and express a range of emotions. 

There are a variety of different forms of worship using music:

  • Chanting (monastic plainchant) is often viewed as meditative and can help calm people down and focus the mind on God.
  • Vibrant hymns can help express joy which is usually found in Pentecostal and Charismatic forms of worship.
  • Modern music can help attract young worshippers to worship God and to carry on passing over religion in the future generations

The use of music can be controversial as people say it can distract you from proper worship, which is the Quakers views on music. Some say only certain styles of music has the quality and dignity to be used to worship God. 

5 of 7

Christian prayer as public and private devotion

Most of Christian worship is used in a liturgical form where worship is collective such as the eucharist. 

Prayer is also an act of devotion which can be less formal, sometimes spontaneous and as expressions of the relationship with God.

Private devotion strengthens a persons faith and public devotion is a form of Christian witness where others see a persons faith and perhaps be converted by it. 

In RC, devotions include praying the Rosary and the stations of the cross. The rosary is repetitive prayers and repetition allows the mind to concentrate according to Buddhism. The stations of the cross is a three dimensional representation of Jesus's suffering and this can intensify the Christian spiritual experience. 

6 of 7

Public devotion

Examples of public devotion would be:

Walks of witness where Christian groups engage eg. on good friday to mark the death of Jesus. These can include visual aids such as a cross. Such walks are designed to be witnessed by non-christians and attract them into converting. 

Mystery plays is recreating scenes from Jesus's life. They were designed to express the faith of the performers and to enhance the audiences understanding of key Christian beliefs.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Christianity resources »