Caring for the Dying and the Dead: Looking to History for Insights

Event time: 
Monday, June 28, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:15pm
Free, but register in advance
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Event description: 

Caring for the Dying and the Dead: Looking to History for Insights

How has the church offered care for the dying and memorialized the dead in previous times of plague? What practical lessons might we adopt for today?


Thomas G. Long
Author of Accompany Them with Singing—The Christian Funeral, and Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University


Remi Chiu
Associate Professor and Music Program Director, Loyola University Maryland

Vanessa Harding
Professor of London History, Birkbeck University of London

Markus Rathey
Professor in the Practice of Music History, Yale Institute of Sacred Music and School of Music

James M. Starke
Director of the Office of Divine Worship, Diocese of Arlington

Zoom registration

Note: Your registration is valid for the entire series; feel free to attend whichever session(s) you want.

This is the third of four webinars “Accompanying the Dying and the Dead in the Time of COVID.”  | series information

Presenter bios

Thomas G. Long is Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. His introductory homiletics textbook, The Witness of Preaching, has been translated into a number of languages and is widely used in theological schools around the world. In 2010, Preaching magazine named it one of the 25 most influential books in preaching for the last 25 years. Dr. Long gave the distinguished Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale, which were published in his 2009 book Preaching from Memory to Hope. Dr. Long is also deeply interested in biblical studies, practical theology, and liturgy. His books on the Christian funeral, Accompany Them with Singing and The Good Funeral (co-authored with noted poet and funeral director Thomas Lynch), have generated interest both in the academy and the media. Another book, What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith, addresses the issue of innocent suffering and the goodness of God, and was selected as Book of the Year for 2011 by the Academy of Parish Clergy. An ordained minister int he Presbyterian Church (USA), Dr. Long served as the senior homiletics editor of The New Interpreter’s Bible, and he is associate editor of Journal for Preachers and editor-at-large for the Christian Century. Emory University awarded him the Emory Williams Award for teaching excellence in 2011.

Remi Chiu, Associate Professor and Music Program Director at Loyola University, is a musicologist specializing in Renaissance music and the history of medicine. He is the author of Plague and Music in the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)—which examines the role of music and music-making in the medical, spiritual, and civic strategies for combating pestilence—and the editor of a companion volume of Renaissance polyphony, Songs in Times of Plague (A-R Editions, 2020). His research into the music of past epidemics has yielded some unexpected insights into music-making under COVID-19, some of which have been featured in the press (The Guardian, NPR, among others). An article on the topic, “Functions of Music Making Under Lockdown: A Trans-Historical Perspective Across Two Pandemics,” was published in Frontiers of Psychology in 2020. Dr. Chiu’s latest research focuses on the role of music in popular (quasi-) scientific entertainments at the turn of the twentieth century, such as the medicine show and the freakshow.

Vanessa Harding is Professor of London History, Birkbeck University of London, where her research and writing focus on the social history of early modern London, c. 1500-1700, and especially on family and household, the environment, health and disease, and death and burial. Her interest in the latter was sparked by a visit to an archaeological excavation of a crowded and disorderly early-modern burial ground, leading to a comparative investigation of the impact of high mortality rates on urban culture, civic government, and the material environment, within the context of changing beliefs about the afterlife as a result of the Reformation. Her book, The dead and the living in Paris and London, 1500-1670, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2002. She has published articles on fear of death, deathbeds, and burial practices in the medieval and early modern periods. Recent events have sharpened an interest in plague, which ravaged Europe between the mid-fourteenth and the late seventeenth centuries. Plague epidemics are the most dramatic and best-studied aspect of this phenomenon, and much attention has been paid to the last major outbreak of c. 1664-7, but the disease also lurked in endemic form for much of the period, especially in cities. Plague shaped people’s perspectives on death and their beliefs about providence and judgment, as well as their ideas about the role of government in environmental regulation, quarantine, and welfare. Professor Harding’s articles on ‘Plague in early modern London: chronologies, localities, environments’ (2018) and ‘Reading plague in early modern London’ (2019) contribute to this theme.

Markus Rathey is Professor in the Practice of Music History at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and School of Music, where he teaches music history courses on various periods as well as interdisciplinary courses  on music and theology at Yale Divinity School. He is a specialist in the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, 17th and 18th century music, and the relationship between music, religion, and politics during the Enlightenment. Professor Rathey studied musicology, Protestant theology, and German in Bethel and Münster. He taught at the University of Mainz and the University of Leipzig and was a research fellow at the Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, before joining the Yale faculty in 2003. He published two books on Bach in 2016 that explore some of the composer’s most important works: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio: Music, Theology, Culture (Oxford University Press); and Bach’s Major Vocal Works (Yale University Press).

James M. Starke, Ph.D., currently serves as the Director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Diocese of Arlington (VA) and Lecturer at The Catholic University of America (DC). In July 2021 he will begin as Assistant Professor of Systematics and Director of Liturgy at St. Mary’s Seminary and University (MD). After receiving a bachelor of science in physics from Saint Louis University (MO) in 2011, he moved to Washington, DC, for graduate studies and received a doctorate of philosophy in liturgical studies and sacramental theology from The Catholic University of America in 2018. His recent contributions to scholarship include studies on liturgical tradition and the dedication of a church, as well as work on the pontificate of Pope Francis, ecology and the environment, and the coronavirus pandemic as these relate to the contemporary celebration of liturgy and theological reflection on it. His ministry to the Church includes serving as a censor deputatus, chair of the diocesan liturgical commission, member of the diocesan building commission and golden jubilee commission, and member of the national board of directors of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.


Time to Heal, (c) 2016 by John August Swanson
Giclee, 16.5” x 13.5”

Open to: 
General Public