NEW SONG // Friday, Sept 29  9-10:50am (Rm 210)

Spirit + Song = pneusong
Ray Harris

The ancient concept of spiritual infilling to “in-spire” has permeated artistic expression for millennia. Theopneustos is a Greek term possibly created by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16. Translated as “inspired by God” or “given by divine inspiration” it is literally “God-breathed.” The text reads: “All scripture is God-breathed.” The root word pneuma, as well as its Hebrew equivalent ruah may be translated breath, spirit, or wind. I have linked these concepts of inspiration, spiritual song and scripture in my online project pneusong - the entire Bible in song.

Human song is sustained by breath. The creation account of Genesis 2:7 attest to the divine breath initiating life “The Lord God breathed the breath of life into the human’s nostrils making a living person.” In Ezekiel’s imagery of new life for dry bones the sovereign LORD says, “Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again” (Ezekiel 37:5). In Revelation 1:10 the author John receives the words while “in the Spirit.” Christian art and spirituality imitates the breath and Spirit of God. In and through that spirit we are called to be sub-creators.

This lecture-demonstration will present a sampling of which employs musical genres from chant to rap, secco recitative to folk tunes, minimalism to adapted melodies of Leonard Cohen. I will place the work of pneusong within a broader context of the arts and spirituality by briefly exploring the exegesis of theologian-musician Jeremy Begbie, aesthetic assessment and calibrations of the heart in the work of philosophers Duane Friesen and James K.A. Smith, the imagery of poet Luci Shaw and perceptive literary critique suggested by Northrop Frye. It is my desire that this spirit-song project will inspire others to write, paint, speak, sing and play their God-breathed art.


Ray Harris is a chaplain, singer and teacher. A worship pastor for fifteen years, a professional tenor soloist and choral musician, and an instructor in music (voice) at Trinity Western University for twenty years. His MCS Thesis “Scripture in Song: JS Bach’s Exegesis of Matthew 26 & 27 in the St. Matthew Passion” and his DMA dissertation “The Psalms of Ascents” (which involved collaboration with composer Larry Nickel in the creation of a song cycle based on Psalm 120-134) both reflect his love of scripture and song. In 2016 he completed a seven-year project setting the entire Bible to song: