November 7, 2013 Kanniks Kannikeswaran writes groundbreaking Hindu sacred music and forms community choirs to perform it. "When a group of about 20 strangers get together and sing raga-based music with choral harmony for the first time," he says, "something magical begins to happen."
October 19, 2013 The trumpeter and bandleader premiered his gospel-jazz Abyssinian Mass back in 2008. But now, accompanied by a 70-voice choir, he's taking the sprawling work on the road and into African-American churches — whose services were the inspiration for the piece.
October 18, 2013 Earlier this month, NPR reported on a small group of Pentecostal Christians who handle snakes to prove their faith in God. We wondered why the handlers are bitten so rarely, and why so few of those snakebites are lethal. Herpetologists who have studied the snake-handling phenomenon have some theories.
October 15, 2013 Hidden deep in the hills of Appalachia, there's a tradition of worship music that has not changed since the 18th century. The hymnody is still practiced by congregations of the Old Regular Baptist Church, where a leader calls out a line and the people respond in a mournful, soaring chorus.
October 4, 2013 Pastor Jamie Coots says his Pentecostal church is really not that different from other churches. "We sing, we preach, we testify, take up offerings, pray for the sick, everything like everybody else does. Just, every once in a while, snakes are handled," he says.
August 17, 2013 The ancient spiritual practice of Sufism incorporates all kinds of activities, including music, to achieve a state in which the practitioner loses the ego. Riad Abdel-Gawad creates new Sufi music by translating sacred chants to the violin.
August 13, 2013 In the cloistered world of classical music recordings, there is great interest in choral music by Catholic nuns these days. On Mater Eucharistiae, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, are "able to bring other people into that space of prayer when we're singing."
July 31, 2013 An Oxford-trained theologian named Jason Heap, who doesn't believe in God, wants to become the first humanist chaplain in the U.S. Navy. That's sparked a backlash, though there are 13,000 active duty service members who identify as atheists or agnostics.