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Psalms and Interfaith Engagement in Global Context

Eric Sarwar

Rev. Dr. Eric Sarwar (Ph.D.) from the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan is called to serve as a musician, minister, and missiologist. He is currently participating as a global partner in the post-doctoral Residential Study Program at the Overseas Ministries Study Center at Princeton Theological Seminary, researching and writing on the past, present, and future of the Presbyterian Mission in Pakistan.

The post-resurrection narrative in Luke 24:13–35 describes the dialogue between the risen Christ and sorrowful disciples on the Emmaus Road. The risen Christ expands the disciples’ global perspectives when he opens their minds by giving them the fulcrum of the scriptural proclamation of the salvific plan, “that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

From a political perspective, since its inception in the sixth century, all Eastern patriarchal sees, excluding Rome, were under Muslim rule for fourteen hundred years.

In sum, among many other cross-cultural mistakes in the history of Christian-Muslim relations, Western theological influence (seminaries, scholars, and curricula), an uninformed European understanding of Islam, and the practices of colonial-era Christian missions all helped to form a Christian polemic against Muslims that must be critically examined.

Power encounters have always been part of proclamation, and the traditional Western mission-sending structure in particular must address this reality. 

Whether the global church engages with Hindu Om, Hebrew Shalom, Muslim Salam, or Sikh Sat Siri Akal, rediscovering the heritage of psalm singing builds musical bridges through shared musical heritage that expresses unity and vision for heavenly and earthly peace.

“Muslims are the famous gospel singers in Pakistan.” This statement always surprises those who talk with me about worship and music in a Muslim context. During my Ph.D. field research, I had an opportunity to host an interfaith psalm festival in Karachi, Pakistan. A young contemporary music band performed Psalm 33:1–5. After their performance, the Christian lead vocalist of the band introduced one of the singers in the band as a Muslim and a hafiz-e-Qur’an (one who has memorized the Qur’an by heart in Arabic). It was a strange but pleasant surprise. When asked how he felt about being a part of the interfaith psalm festival as a Muslim, he gladly said that Zaboor (Psalm) is also a Word of God and mentioned in the Qur’an. As a Muslim, he said, he has no hesitation in singing the Zaboor of Dawood (David) as a divine revelation. This event reflects how the book of Psalms provides a shared spiritual and musical common ground for interfaith engagement in a local and global context. 

Being trained in the oral tradition of Indian raga music, ordained as a minister of the Word and Sacrament for twenty years in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, and a missiologist in a global context, I have had many personal experiences engaging our religious neighbors—Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and those of other spiritual traditions through music, particularly the Psalms. For brevity, this article’s aim is twofold: first, to critically examine interfaith dialogue, and second, to provide an alternative perspective towards singing, chanting, reading, and reciting psalms as a creative and cultural dialogue in worship from a witness framework. This article attempts to ask the following questions:

1. What is the role of Psalms in Christian worship and witness?

2. What are the critical issues and hindrances of less fruitful Christian witness in the Muslim world?

3. How do the Psalms help us engage in interfaith relationships, and what is the contribution of Psalms in communicating the Christian message? 

Psalms in Worship as Witness 

First and foremost, the function of psalmodic literary genres in the arts, poetry and performance (singing and playing, dancing, and craft practices) has been firmly established in the Jewish history of worship (Ex. 15; 31:4–5; 35:30–32, 35; Ps. 90; Judg. 5), David’s tabernacle (1 Chron. 15), and the Levitical families of master musicians (1 Chron. 25) in first temple Judaism.1 However, the omission of the sacred sound became a protest during the exile (Ps. 137) and was revived in the postexilic period. 

Luke echoes psalmodic poetic patterns in the opening of Zechariah’s Benedictus, Mary’s Magnificat, and the angels’ Gloria Patri (Luke 1–3). Jesus alludes to the Psalms in his public ministry when he teaches using parables (Matt. 13; Ps. 78:2). Specific references to psalms can be easily recognized, as in the Beatitudes when Jesus references Psalm 37, saying, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt.5:5; Ps. 37:11). Second temple religious life in the Gospels is filled with references to the Psalms, whether it is a dialogue about the messianic kingship with religious leaders (Matt. 21:10; Pss. 2 and 110), liturgical life (Matt. 26:17–30; Mark 14:12–26; Pss. 116–118 [also called the Hallel Psalms]), or laments from Gethsemane to the crucifixion (Matt. 26:38; Pss. 42–43; Ps. 31:5). At Golgotha, psalmodic references pour verbatim from Jesus’ lips (Matt. 27:46; Ps. 22:1). 

The post-resurrection narrative in Luke 24:13–35 describes the dialogue between the risen Christ and sorrowful disciples on the Emmaus Road. The risen Christ expands the disciples’ global perspectives when he opens their minds by giving them the fulcrum of the scriptural proclamation of the salvific plan, “that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). The first-century church accepted this mandate and continued praising God and proclaiming the event amidst suffering (Acts 16:25–34).

Mission and liturgical historians have found that throughout church history, Psalms 67, 96, and 98 are “missional gems” and have been vital in Christian practice and proclamation.3 The patristic fathers in the first three centuries CE continued the heritage of singing psalms. Until the early Middle Ages, psalmody was the backbone of the Divine Office—monastic and cathedral.4 Worship scholars use the paradigms of “call and response,”5 “proclamation and praise,” and “revelation and response,”6 reminding the global church that “the body of Christ has two basic purposes for its existence: worship and witness.”7 Worship and witness are primarily spiritual processes; therefore, worship and witness mirror each other. Worship and witness are inseparable from God’s interaction in the global context, and the book of Psalms has a critical role in paradigm-shifting approaches to interfaith engagement through worship and witness.8 The Psalms are an expression of profound worship. Lyrics and music work together to define God’s redemptive work and God’s love as vertically dialogical and horizontally emotive. It happens amidst worship—“inviting and commanding . . . in engaging ethne-nations.”9 True worship is living a doxological life and declaring witness to our religious neighbors. As mentioned above, the Great Commission and proclamation in Matthew 28:18–20 took place in a worship context that was already embedded in the Psalms and was the core of religious life during second temple Judaism.10

These references remind us that our calling to proclamation is creative and contextual. Like the disciples walking toward Emmaus, often the church can become blinded by denominational dogma, hindering missional engagement. However, worship can lead hearts to start burning, and eyes to open as we recognize him through sacrament and Scriptures (Luke 24:32–35). Old Testament scholars, liturgical historians, and missiologists attest to the Psalms’ role in the mission of the church, engaging the world with God’s proclamation and praise. The critical question is why the twenty-first-century church needs to initiate interfaith engagement. It is a biblical and missional mandate demanding a conscious response from the global body of Christ. The recent Barna study finds that Americans are disconnecting from the Great Commission.11

As Christianity declines in the Western Hemisphere, India surpasses China in population and number of languages spoken in the same region (Hindi/Urdu and Punjabi), according to Ethnologue.12 Additionally, the Muslim population is proliferating. A study by the Pew Research Center predicts that by the year 2050, India will have the largest Muslim population, and Islam will be the second largest religious group in the United States, while the global population of Muslims will exceed the global population of Christians by the end of the century.13 These soaring statistics demand critical evaluation of Western mission models. Before exploring the role of Psalms in interfaith engagement, it is critical to understand what hinders the mission from bearing much fruit in the Muslim context.

Manazra and Muslim Culture

Concerning Muslim-Christian engagement, early approaches to interreligious dialogue evolved through confrontational means (polemics), cognitive literary approaches (especially through printing), and cultural alienation. Each of these methods of communication across religious groups played vital roles in unfriendly Muslim-Christian relationships.14 From a political perspective, since its inception in the sixth century, all Eastern patriarchal sees, excluding Rome, were under Muslim rule for fourteen hundred years. Below are the three critical issues for interfaith engagement in the Muslim culture.

First, the manazra, a confrontational, polemical approach to Muslim engagement, initiated by Byzantine theologians and monks such as Theodore Abu Qurrah and Theophanes the Confessor (752–818), attacked the genesis of Islam. John of Damascus (676–749) wrote that Islam was a heresy. Nicetas of Byzantium (842–912), to help Emperor Michael II (842–867), assumed a level of political protection in his Christendom context.15 

From the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, the Crusades engulfed Christian-Muslim relations, followed by Western colonial control. In 1495, Christian missionary efforts and imperialism tipped the balance of power away from the Islamic bloc to the Western monarchs. From the fifteenth century until the nineteenth century, the engagement of Islam by the West exposed the interests of international diplomacy, and expansionism made it the “heyday” of mission and imperialism. Colonial rule by Western nations created a polemic against the Muslim mind, and with the rise of the colonial era, manazra reappeared in the late ninth century. Pamphlets, tracts, books, and philosophical reasoning spread and defended anti-Muslim arguments, while Christian missionaries used confrontational methods among Muslim communities to gain converts. 

Second, with the Western Reformation’s use of printing technology in the Enlightenment era, Christian missions employed a cognitive literary model in an oral Muslim culture. During the Reformation, much of the reforming Western church’s attention was directed toward engaging Roman Catholics rather than religious others, especially Muslims. Reformed historians find two mentions of Islam from Luther in two of his manuscripts. The first is found in the “Libellus,” a tract “on the religion and customs of the Turks,” and the second is in the preface of the new German translation of the 1543 Qur’an translated from the Latin, edited by Theodore Bibliander.16

Although Luther’s acquaintance with Islam was minimal, his observations were persuasive as he wrote about “the Turks” on the “religion of Muhammad.” Luther was under immense political and social pressure to respond to the rising threat to the church and the state by the Ottoman Turks’ invasion of Christendom. He described Turks as “the rod of God’s wrath” by which “God is punishing the world.”17 Luther understood the Turks through the lens of biblical prophecy. The Turks were for Europe what the Babylonians were for Israel—a “schoolmaster” to discipline and to teach the fear of God and prayer.18 Additionally, Western missionary enterprises acquired literal and cognitive modes of communication in the oral and emotional voice-centric Islamic context.19 Therefore, amid political and polemical approaches, the introduction of printed textual materials became important. The Western literary revolution leads to written text translation as a mission model that was in conflict with the oral literacy of the Muslim communities in which it operated.

A third reason for tenuous Muslim-Christian relationships centers around a misunderstanding of Muslim music culture on the part of Western Christians. Muslim music culture can be canonical and noncanonical.20 This author not only explored Pakistan’s canonical and noncanonical religious music culture but also discussed the halal (permission) and haram (prohibition) of music in Islamic thought in detail. In Islamic religious music culture, adhan (the call to prayer five times a day) and Qur’anic qirat, or cantillation, fall in the canonical category. The noncanonical religious-spiritual music activities of Pakistan are outside the masjid (mosque) in social spaces such as Ramadan nights, the Prophet’s birthday (mawlid), birthdays of Sufi imams (urs), weddings, and condolences. The adhan from Masjid, Qur’anic qirat, Sunni Milad, Shi’a Majlis-e-Marsya, and Sufi sama’ are the five mainstreams of Muslim music culture in Pakistan.

In sum, among many other cross-cultural mistakes in the history of Christian-Muslim relations, Western theological influence (seminaries, scholars, and curricula), an uninformed European understanding of Islam, and the practices of colonial-era Christian missions all helped to form a Christian polemic against Muslims that must be critically examined. The confrontational practices, cultural alienation, and literary methods of Christian engagement with Islam has produced furious antagonism, failed missions, and fewer converts. However, in the last century, numerous meetings emphasizing the need for interfaith engagement between Christians and Muslims have been taking place.22 Post-Christendom mission efforts pursue common ground in interfaith engagements between Islam and Christianity.23 Over a half-century of efforts reveal the vast common grounds between Muslims and Christians. The Vatican Council II (1962–65) of the Roman Catholic Church explored interfaith relationships in the context of mission in the documents Ad Gentes, Lumen Gentium, and Nostre Atetate, and the Office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation in the World Council of Churches is exploring dialogue as a way toward justice and peace in a multireligious world, developing practices such as “Common Word,” Scriptural Reasoning, and Scriptures in Dialogue.24

The most striking realization I have made is that radicalized social and sacred space diffuses by using contextualized psalms in Pakistan. Where other methods of interfaith dialogue are less fruitful, I propose a new paradigm-shifting prophetic approach to interfaith engagement: using the Psalms.25 

Punjabi Psalter and Presbyterian North India Mission 

South Asia is the birthplace of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism among a pantheon of pluralistic traditions. The Indian subcontinent is known for its sonic spirituality and interfaith engagement. Classical music from the North Indian subcontinent is regarded as a pan-regional entity. Hindustani music features the same subgenres, styles, performance formats, instruments, and repertoire of modes and meters as ragas and rhythms Indian music, whether cultivated for educational purposes by Hindu shastriya/bhakti (devotional) sangeet, Mughal Empire courts for entertainment, Sufi qawalli for spiritual quest, Sindhi kafi and Shah Jo Raag, Sikh Gurbani Sangeet, cultural folklores, or Christian worship music.26 Myriads of Western missionaries who served on Indian soil transformed their missional understanding and enriched the Western church through their engagement with the Indian subcontinent.27 The North India Presbyterian mission arrived in the North Indian Punjab and established its first mission center at Sialkot in 1855 (currently in Pakistan). In addition to their educational and medical mission, the Presbyterian worship committee produced a most contextual and creative worship resource in 1908 called Punjabi Zabur: Desi Ragan Vich. A century-old interfaith corpus, this resource includes the whole book of Punjabi Psalms with Western musical notation, lyrically translated by a Muslim convert, Imam Din Shahbaz (I.D. Shahbaz), and 405 pieces of lyrical poetry composed in the local music system by a Hindu maestro, Radha Kishan.28 The Tehillim School of Church Music & Worship in Pakistan published a documentary on Sialkot Convention29 and recently digitized the whole corpus of the Punjabi Psalter.30 

Punjabi Zabor is a text-driven (kalam-shbdh Pradhan) genre, connecting the emotional and devotional aspect of rag and taal. In this respect, they have traditionally been performed in religious and congregational contexts rather than in a stand-alone presentation.31 Punjabi Psalms are the Bible of orally literate worship communities in the Indian subcontinent. It is a unique repertoire with religio-music import, serving as a bridge to Hindustani music and a religious music model for decolonizing Western hegemony. It also highlights the importance and richness of the vernacular genres in the Indian subcontinent’s religious music culture.32 Below are a few case studies reflecting the Psalms and interfaith engagements in global contexts. 

Psalms and Islam: Power Encounters in Pakistan 

A detailed study of my own about the convergences and divergences between the Psalms and Islam was recently published.33 During a spring 2023 mission trip to Pakistan, I was invited to the largest Presbyterian church in Pakistan, First Presbyterian Church Faisalabad, which gathers six thousand attendees every week. Rev. Emric Joseph (pastor in charge) and I were seminary fellows at the Gujranwala Theological Presbyterian Seminary twenty years ago. During our conversation, he informed me that a land mafia occupied the property for thirty years and hindered church access and activities. However, since his arrival and the last sixteen years of ministry, God’s Spirit has moved powerfully, and not only did the land mafia leave the church property but the second- and third-generation members of the Presbyterian church rejoined their congregational family. 

While visiting, we witnessed spiritual encounters with God and manifestations of evil spirits during praise sessions. The Friday service started with singing Punjabi Psalm 18:16–18. Suddenly, as the worship team started singing Psalm 10:1–10 in Punjabi, a commotion started on the women’s side and later in the men’s section. Meanwhile, two women started walking toward the pulpit and trying to reach the pastor. While the choir was singing the Punjabi Psalm 10 enthusiastically in the pentatonic raga-based melodic structure accompanied by upbeat rhythms, both the text and tune of Psalm 10 helped the singers and congregations to call on Yahweh to intervene and vindicate his people, and to judge evil (Ps. 10:5). As the evil spirit manifested, Rev. Joseph rebuked the evil spirit to leave the possessed in the name of Jesus Christ. After deliverance, the three women fainted and lay straight at the front of the elevated stage. Later, Rev. Joseph said that most men and women who come for healing and prayers are Muslims. The cultural music practices have been a bond to bring people together. He wondered if the Psalms might be a critical bridge in connecting Muslims’ background in Islam to a new Christian context.

In a global context where people long for spiritual encounters, the Psalms become the “manual for spirituality.”35 Though this kind of spiritual expression may not be familiar to many in mainline churches in the United States, it is supported in Scripture. The redemptive saga begins in Genesis with spiritual warfare: “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15). And the Letter to the Ephesians discusses principals and powers opposed to the gospel: “Our struggle is . . . against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:10–12). The book of Psalms, too, has a longstanding connection to spiritual warfare, and many psalms reference principalities and powers, and their earthly agents, as opposed to God (Ps. 2:1–3; Ps.24:7–10). Meanwhile throughout the Psalms, as agents of evil conspire, the worshiping community is encouraged to practice their praise and power (Ps. 13;18; 35; 37; 70; 71; 91; 107:20; 109; 149:6–9). Jesus’ wilderness encounter with Satan in Matthew also shows the role of worship in this conflict when Satan takes Jesus to the highest point of the second temple (Ps. 91:11–12; Matt. 4:5). Jesus’ second temptation for personal glory was also in a worship context. Spirituality is contextual and deeply rooted in local worship practices, which are one of the visible forms of witness and belief within a culture.36

Power encounters have always been part of proclamation, and the traditional Western mission-sending structure in particular must address this reality. In an interfaith context, power encounters have been and will continue to be a part of gospel proclamation and worship practice. 

I will next turn to the case study of Psalms and interfaith engagement with Sikhism. 

Psalms and Sikhism: Shared Musical Heritage 

During Ramadan 2021, the Artesia City Church, an Indian and Pakistani congregation, hosted an “Interfaith Response to Post-Pandemic Society” event.37 The program was intentionally designed to understand how faith traditions have responded to the pandemic in Southern California. The interfaith event was attended by Muslim (from the Council General of Pakistan in Los Angeles), Christian, Hindu, and Sikh community leaders. The event started with the reading and singing of Punjabi Psalm 139:7–11 composed in raga bhairvi, with a moderately slow tempo of eight beats, bhajan kehrwa style. Bhairvi raga is known for its devotional impact, and the simple melodic structure helps the congregation to sing in unison in a call-and-response style. A Sikh community leader and a Gurbani Sangeet Kertan singer (Sikh religious songster) from the Sikh Gurudwara in Hollywood, California, attended the event with his family. The Sikh leader reflected on the text and tune of Psalm 139 and confessed that he listened to the Punjabi Psalm for the first time, which touched his heart. He quoted the text repeatedly and pointed to the melodic structure, which was close to the Sikh religious music repertoire. The event was featured in national news in the United States and Pakistan. Our interfaith engagement with Sikh leaders in California opened new doors for the witness in Pakistan and built bridges between faiths.

Later, we invited Sikh leaders to participate and play cultural instruments at the Annual Psalms Festival in Southern California. The Singh’s son and daughter played sarangi, saranda, and other string instruments at the Psalms festival. This gathered the interest of other Sikh tabla players, who started attending and playing tablas at our worship services and house gatherings regularly. Moreover, a few weeks later, I received a call from the same Sikh community leader to visit the Hollywood Gurdwara, and surprisingly, not only did he introduce me to the Sikh congregation, he invited me to speak there. Our shared heritage of Punjabi Psalms in local raga-based music developed an interfaith friendship that extended to more significant community engagement. That friendship motivated us to visit the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism in Pakistan. 

During the spring of 2023, a mission trip to Pakistan with the stated clerk and a delegate from the Martin Pur Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan gave us an opportunity to visit the most sacred place of Sikhism in Pakistan.38 The guide gave us a tour of the whole gurudwara without any hesitation. We met with the Gurbani Sangeet singer during our visit and discussed our shared musical heritage with the Punjabi Psalms and Guru Granth Sahib (the holy poetic book of Sikhism). We shared a musical heritage of ragas and rhythms from the same Indic music system, a language that connects us emotionally and spiritually. However, the relationship between Sikh Gurbani Sangeet and Punjabi Psalms is still waiting to be explored. Time and space limitations barred us from sharing in more depth the stories of Psalms and Sufis in Pakistan and the Roman Catholic Cardinal Coutts, who has conversed with Muslim clerics around praying and singing the Psalms together.39 Furthermore, we weren’t able to share the story of how a prison in the United Arab Emirates preventing a chaplain, Rev. Javed Masih, from bringing a one-page copy of Psalm 86 to an inmate, led to a friendship with a guard that opened the gates for six Bibles translated into five languages to be allowed into the prison.40

Whether the global church engages with Hindu Om, Hebrew Shalom, Muslim Salam, or Sikh Sat Siri Akal, rediscovering the heritage of psalm singing builds bridges through shared musical heritage that expresses unity and vision for heavenly and earthly peace. Concerning Christian worship as a witness to those of other faiths, scholars find parallels between the Psalms and the Hindu Bhajans, Muslim Qur’an, Gurbani Sangeet of Sikhism, and Sufi Sama, which manifest through practice and performance.41 In the twenty-first century, various scholars have proposed that interfaith dialogue is “a meeting of hearts rather than of minds.” New artistic and cultural avenues for reaching out through music forms a “Creative Interreligious Dialogue,” a “dialogue of souls,” and singing psalms demonstrates that “far from being a utopia, union and harmony are a reality that is attainable.”42

The cultural force of sonic sounds is unstoppable in a Muslim context, and the nexus of missio-musico43 is applicable in the backdrop of Muslim music culture. The book of Psalms contains various common themes with Qur’anic doctrines that could be explored in cultural music for proclamation. Collaborative and creative approaches to singing Zabor (psalms) suggest translating Psalms into cultural texts,44 a practice that fosters faithful friendship among Muslims. The emotive power of psalms in text and tune holds a magnetic pull for spirituality, personal piety, and missional practice. In a plural context, psalm singing can play a critical yet creative role in interfaith engagement. Christ commissioned the church to communicate the Christian message. He sent followers with his power, presence, and proclamation, which involved dislodging and dispossessing the power strongholds and led them to the Way, Truth, and Life.

I will conclude with a story of a villager in Pakistan. One day a landlord of a poor, illiterate, Christian worker asked him a heavy and deep theological question: “Why do you Christians call Essa [Jesus] a Son of God?” Fearfully, but faithfully, the man responded, “I don’t know about it, but one thing I do know,” and he sang a simple, popular psalm, “May his [Christ’s] name endure forever” (Ps. 72:17).

Selected Bibliography

    Amalraj, John, Geoffrey W Hahn, and William David Taylor, eds. Spirituality in Mission: Embracing the Lifelong Journey. Globalization of Mission Series. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2018.

    Bosch, David J. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. New York: Orbis Books, 2011.

    Brueggemann, Walter. The Psalms and the Life of Faith. Edited by Patrick D. Miller. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995. 

    Hawn, C. Michael. “Sung Prayer.” In Discerning the Spirits, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. and Sue A. Rozeboom. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2003.

    King, Roberta Rose. Global Arts and Christian Witness: Exegeting Culture, Translating the Message, and Communicating Christ. Mission in Global Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019.

    Prutow, Dennis J. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody. Saline, MI: McNaughton & Gunn, 2013. 

    Sadiq, Yousuf. The Contextualized Psalms (Punjabi Zabur): A Precious Heritage of the Global Punjabi Christian Community. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2020.

    Sunquist, Scott W. “Church: The Community of Worship and Witness.” In Understanding Christian Mission. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2013.

    Troll, Christian W. “New Light on the Christian-Muslim Controversy of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century,” Die Welt des Islams 34, no. 1 (April 1994).

    Voss Roberts, Michelle. Tastes of the Divine: Hindu and Christian Theologies of Emotion. Comparative Theology: Thinking Across Traditions. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014.

    Webber, Robert. Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith. Grand Rapids: MI: Zondervan, 2009.

    Witvliet, John D. The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2007.


      1. Walter Brueggemann, The Psalms and the Life of Faith (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 211.

      2. Danijel Berković, “Jesus and the Psalms,” Kairos Evangelical Journal of Theology 10, no. 1 (2016): 41–62.

      3. Roberta R. King, Global Arts and Christian Witness: Exegeting Culture, Translating the Message, and Communicating Christ, ed. Scott Sunquist and Amos Yong, Mission in Global Community (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019), 7. John Goldingay, Psalms 90-150, vol. 3 of Psalms, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 2008), 108.

      4. John D. Witvliet, The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2007), 3–10.

      5. King, Global Arts and Christian Witness, 3.

      6. Ron Man, Proclamation and Praise: Hebrews 2:12 and the Christology of Worship (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2007), 7. See also Man’s Let Us Draw Near: Biblical Foundations of Worship (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2023).

      7. King, Global Arts and Christian Witness, 3. 

      8. John Amalraj, Geoffrey W. Hahn, and William David Taylor, ed., Spirituality in Mission: Embracing the Lifelong Journey, Globalization of Mission Series (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2018}; Scott W. Sunquist, “Church: The Community of Worship and Witness,” in Understanding Christian Mission (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing, 2013), 281–310.

      9. King, Global Arts and Christian Witness, 4. 

      10. Robert Webber, Common Roots: The Original Call to an Ancient-Future Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 104; John D. Witvliet, The Biblical Psalms, 94; Brueggemann, The Psalms and the Life of Faith. 

      11. “Pastors See Missions as a Mandate, But Christians Aren’t So Sure,” Barna Group, April 20, 2022,

      12., accessed on July 25, 2023.

      13. Michael Lipka, “Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.S. and around the World,” Pew Research Center, August 9, 2017, 

      14. Eric Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom: A Common Heritage of Divine Songs for Muslim-Christian Friendship (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2023), 13.

      15. Edward L. Smither, “Explaining the Trinity to Muslims and Jews in Medieval Christian Mission: Lessons from the ‘Life of Cyril,’” International Bulletin of Mission Research, 2017, 

      16. James L. Boyce and Sarah Henrich, “Martin Luther—Translations of Two Prefaces on Islam: Preface to the Libellus de ritu et moribus Turcorum (1530), and Preface to Bibliander’s Edition of the Qur’an (1543),” Word & World 16, no. 2 (Spring 1996).

      17. Boyce and Henrich, “Martin Luther,” 255.

      18. Boyce and Henrich, “Martin Luther,” 255.

      19. J. A. Maxey and E. R. Wendland, eds., Translating Scripture for Sound and Performance: New Directions in Biblical Studies, vol. 6, Biblical Performance Criticism (Eugene, OR: Cascade Press, 2012).

      20. Isma‘il R. Al Faruqi, Islam (Beltsville, MD: International Graphics, 1984); Amir Dastmalchian, “Art and Belief: Artists Engaged in Interreligious Dialogue,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 25, no. 3 (July 2014), Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom, 29.

      22. Cairo (1906), Edinburgh (1910), Lucknow (1911), Tambaran (1938), New Delhi (1961), WCC and Vatican Council II (1965), Berlin (1966), Lausanne (1974, 1989, 2011), Doha 2003, Cologne 2005, and Marakesh Declaration (2016).

      23. Dudley J. Woodberry, From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices, and Emerging Issues among Muslims (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2008); Dastmalchian, “Art and Belief”; Bosch, Transforming Mission.

      24. Miroslav Volf, Ghazi bin Muhammad, and Melissa Yarrington, ed., A Common Word: Muslims and Christians on Loving God and Neighbor (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdsman, 2009), 131; Christian W. Troll, “New Light on the Christian-Muslim Controversy of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century,” Die Welt des Islams 34 (1994), E.J. Brills, Leiden.

      25. Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom, 123.

      26. Brian Bond and Peter Manuel, “Rags of Western India and Sindh,” Analytical Approach to World Music Journal, vol. 10, no. 2 (2002), 54; Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom, 29. 

      27. For instance, William Carey, Henry Martin, Amy Carmichael, E. Stanley Jones, Matteo Ricci, Francis Xavier, Roberto De Nobili, Mother Teresa, Donald McGavran, Paul Hiebert, Andrew Walls, and countless other missionaries to India brought fresh insights and missiological concepts. 

      28. Yousuf Sadiq, The Contextualized Psalms (Punjabi Zaur): A Precious Heritage of the Global Punjabi Christian Community (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2020), 88–91; Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom, 105.

      29. Eric Sarwar, Documentary of the Sialkot Convention,, accessed July 24, 2023. 

      30. Punjabi Zabor (1908), Tehillim School of Church Music & Worship,, accessed July 21, 2023.

      31. Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom, 29.

      32. Bond and Manual, “Rags of Western Indian and Sindh,” 20–24.

      33. Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom, 65–91.

      34. Psalms and Power Encounter,, accessed on July 21, 2023.

      35. John Goldingay, Psalms 1—41, vol. 1 of Psalms, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 2006), 58.

      36. Amalraj, Hahn, and Taylor, Spirituality in Mission, 15.

      37. Interfaith Response to Post-Pandemic Society in Southern California,, accessed on July 22, 2023.

      38. Sikh Gurbani Sangeet and Ragas at Guru Nanak Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, 

      39. “Cardinal Coutts and Psalms in Muslin Christian Friendship,” 

      40. “Psalms and Prison in UAE,”, accessed July 24,2023. 

      41. Angelika Neuwirth, “The Late Antique Qur’an’: Jewish-Christian Liturgy, Hellenic Rhetoric, and Arabic Language,” 2012,; Colin Chapman, Cross and Crescent: Responding to the Challenge of Islam, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003); Sarwar, Psalms, Islam, and Shalom, 123. 

      42. Bosch, Transforming Mission, 495; Ruth Illman and W. Alan Smith, Theology and the Arts: Engaging Faith, Routledge Studies in Religion (New York: Routledge Press, 2013), 5, 72.

      43. With the combination of mission and music I am using a new term for the intersection of musicology and missiology.

      44. King, Global Arts and Christian Witness, 100; Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, 2nd ed., American Society of Missiology 42 (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2009), 7.

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