Simon Jackson publishes ‘George Herbert and Early Modern Musical Culture’, Cambridge University Press, December 2022

Image credit: ‘George Herbert and Early Modern Musical Culture’ by Simon Jackson. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Simon Jackson, George Herbert and Early Modern Musical Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Publishing on 1 December

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.

Simon Jackson is Director of Music at Peterhouse and Director of Studies in English at Hughes Hall.