Music and spirituality

About Music and spirituality

International Events

The International Network for Music, Spirituality and Wellbeing hosts details of many events and conferences internationally around the themes of music and spirituality. See here for up to date details:

Music as a bridge

Published in 2019 as a chapter in Enlivening Faith edited by June Boyce Tilman, Helena Kettleborough’s first person study proposes that music can act as a bridge between linear and holistic thinking and as a door to a spiritual view of the world. The study draws upon the four domains of musical experience identified by Boyce-Tillman in 2016 (see diagramme and resources below) which can help us understand how music is can bring us into spirituality: Materials, Expression, Construction and Vales. When these four domains come together, the spiritual is brought back into music.

Practical examples from community

The chapter explores how music can help communities understand and see their place within the world. A widely known song from rural Kerry, Ireland, the Boys of Barr na Stráide, is offered to illustrate how song can help give a community their sense of place in the world. The work of musicians Ruth Keggin, Sean Garvey, Dezi Donnelly and John Broderick are referenced.  It is suggested that music can help teach humanity a wider place in the planet and cosmos.

Using examples it illustrates how music can reach out to wider communities.  Students’ experience of music to inspire them as they learn about responsible enterprise and sustainability in a Business School environment opens up students’ experience to new ideas through a diverse range of music.

It suggests that using music can offer ways to address the deep and ‘wicked’ challenges facing humanity and the planet and concludes with ideas for how such work might be taken forward by musicians and singers in community and education settings.

Further information

Boyce-Tillman’s publications

June Boyce-Tillman has been working for many years at the interface of Music, Spirituality and Learning.  Much of her work is published by Peter Lang, including:

Boyce-Tillman, J. (2000). Constructing Musical Healing: the Wounds That Sing. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Boyce-Tillman, J. (2016). Experiencing Music: Restoring the Spiritual, Music as Well Being. Oxford: Peter Lang.

June Boyce-Tillman, Stephen B Roberts & Jane Erricker (2019)  Enlivening Faith: Music, Spirituality and Christian Theology, Oxford, Peter Lang. This book includes Helena’s chapter.



Singing a New Paradigm

Helena’s chapter includes the following case studies:

Manx musician Ruth Keggin based in the Isle of Man

John Broderick has written many recent songs for Sean Kean, including Nature’s Little Symphony

Manchester based Dezi Donnelly is an internationally respected Irish fiddler

Sean Garvey – who died in 2022 – was based in Iveragy, County Kerry in the west of Ireland

You can hear The Boys of Barr na Stráide here