Competing authenticities: the appropriation of psalms in the festival ‘150 Psalms'

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This article discusses a case study focusing on the appropriation of psalms in the choral festival “150 Psalms”. The authors observe a complex relationship between the festival, in which the psalms are appropriated as heritage, and attitudes regarding the religious traditions in which the psalms are rooted. Authenticity, a key concept in the field of heritage and cultural memory studies, is an important quality of the appropriation; however, this authenticity appeared to be constructed in a wide range of ways. Participants of the festival made different, competing claims regarding (in)authenticity, relating to ‘beauty’, ‘humanness’, ‘religiousness’, ‘relationship with God(s)’, political relevance’, and ‘ambiguity’. Discussing how these authenticities work in different individuals’ appropriation, the authors show that an authenticity built upon values of ‘human universality’, promoted by the festival organization, seems to have replaced an authenticity built upon ‘religiousness’, which the organizers assign to the realm of non-universal, individual experience. By signaling this tension, the authors conclude that ‘authenticity’ is a notion which is far more complex than extant theories on processes of collective ‘canonization’ suggest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-552
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022


  • (choral) music
  • cultural festival
  • secularization
  • political engagement
  • heritage studies

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