Suvivirrestä Hard Rock Hallelujaan? Uskonnollinen musiikki perusopetuksen evankelisluterilaisen uskonnon ja musiikin oppikirjoissa

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


This study examines the dimensions and position of religious music in Finnish-language textbooks for religious (Evangelical Lutheran) and music education in grades 1–6 in basic education. These textbooks have been published to comply with and implement the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education 2004 (POPS 2004). The texts and songs published in the textbooks are approached through the following questions: In what manner is religious music examined in texts? What aspect(s) transform a song into a religious song? (Cf. Smart 2005, 13.) How does a religious song materialize? Which religious songs along with which characteristics have been published? Is religious music, with a special focus on religious songs, appreciated?

The current research utilizes a qualitative approach that fits the task, the research design, the development of the data corpus, and its analyses. This is an empirical and practically oriented study of the field of religious education. The material of the study is retrieved from a total of 24 (N) textbooks of four ME and three RE (Evangelical Lutheran) textbook series published in Finnish between 2004 and the summer of 2012. The research material was compiled from these textbooks, from which the corpus of the actual material was further compressed. Content analysis and classification based on the sources were used as methods of analysis. The textbook texts were subjected to two separate analyses. The first analysis was applied to outline the main themes of the textbook texts associated with religious music, and the second analysis was used to structure their expressions. The textbook songs were scrutinized from the following perspective: signal-word analysis focused on existing expressions of linguistic material, that is, religious language. In examining the dimension of religion, Ninian Smart's Seven Dimensions of Religion model was used as a theoretical background to structure the dimensions that emerged from the studied topics. The songs were also categorized using the song-collection source. Finally, the key themes of the lyrics were examined.

Religious music can be organized into nine means of expressions from the texts in the textbooks, which are as follows: object, actor, action, environment, time, instrument, source, attribute, and argument extractions. The textbook texts primarily describe official 6 religious music based on the Christian tradition and the church institution. Three components were identified as useful criteria for a religious song: signal words, the seven dimensions of religion according to Smart, and the source. The empirical structuring of vocal material using the criteria currently described demonstrated the diversity of religious songs and the plasticity of their boundaries. Based on the textbook song analysis, thirteen different types of religious-related songs were identified, five of which can be defined as religious songs. Others include religiously themed, religious overtones, spiritual overtones, secularized religious, and other songs.

The RE and ME textbooks contained a total of 231 different religious songs. They have 24 common religious songs among them. Based on their main themes, religious songs can be divided into celebration songs, nature and seasonal songs, national songs, ethical songs, Bible songs, general sense of security songs, prayer songs, Christian community songs, and songs about the afterlife. Most of the songs are related to celebrations. Religious music and religious songs have a place in the textbooks of RE and ME published during the years 2004–2012. Traces of religion can be seen in both song lyrics and textbook texts. However, the textbook texts often refer to religious music only in random fragments that appear in different occasional contexts.

In the 21st century, the role of religion and religious culture in basic education has been regularly combined in hymns. However, from the perspective of religious education and its subject matter, this hymn debate has appeared to be one-sided and from the perspective of religious singing, narrow. In Finnish religious education, there has been little consideration of religious music as a subject, the pedagogical possibilities of music in religious education, or correspondingly, the place of religious topics in music education. In the tradition of hymnological research, on the other hand, no attention has been paid to the precise definition of the key concepts. The present research thus opens the way for both music-oriented religious educational research and empirical-based hymnological conceptual research.
Original languageFinnish
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-6420-9
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-6421-6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2020
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology

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