Christopher Grey

Christopher Grey
Lecturer in Theological Aesthetics

PhD, MA, BMus (London), LRAM

Chris has been part of the Theology, Music and Worship department at London School of Theology since 1997 and a faculty member since 2009, succeeding Christopher Redgate—one of the founders of the department. For over a decade, he has developed and taught two undergraduate modules, Integrating Theology and the Arts and Understanding Music, introducing students to interdisciplinary study in theological aesthetics and music theology. These modules navigate ecclesiastical boundaries, encounter diverse historical and modern sources, and engage in the philosophical, practical and theological study of artistic creation, transmission and reception. Chris is also module leader for the performance components of the current Theology, Music and Worship programme. From 2022, he will be teaching two new undergraduate modules—Christianity and the Arts, and Music, Philosophy and God—as part of the department’s new revalidated programmes. Chris avidly believes in giving students the freedom to enquire and question.

Chris completed his PhD in 2021 through the Open University, supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) scholarship. His doctoral thesis revolved around the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, possibly the most significant Catholic intellectual of the mid-twentieth century. The thesis explored the idea of musical beauty from a Thomistic theological and philosophical perspective. From Maritain’s radical aesthetic works, and drawing from Saint Thomas Aquinas and Patristic sources, he constructed an account of musical creation that is relevant to the modern era, whilst remaining tradition-constituted and overcoming enlightenment definitions of beauty and subjectivity. Chris’ principal research interests are in aesthetics, theories of beauty and/or any stimulating conjunction of philosophy, theology and art—particularly music. He is a Thomist (albeit a relative novice), therefore his intellectual outlook and method is firmly located in the realist tradition, whereby the senses introduce us to what exists and is knowable.

Having studied music from childhood and at the Purcell School of Music, Chris then trained at the Royal Academy of Music, specialising in harmony and composition, with principal studies on the violin and viola, and second study on the piano. Somewhat later, he completed an MA in Music Education at University College London, where his interest in the aesthetic was firmly cemented. Chris worked in secondary music education for over 20 years, teaching A level academic music, directing chamber orchestras and teaching the piano and violin.

Outside LST, Chris gives talks on theology and music, poetry and painting (theological aesthetics for the layperson). He also has an abiding love of jazz music, which he has played and taught for decades, and is the regular pianist for the London Jazz Vespers Project based at Westminster Central Hall. Chris describes his most scary musical experience as accompanying the late-great vocalist Annie Ross in a packed, smoke-filled club ‘back in the day!’ Chris is married to Liz, a nurse, and they have 6 children aged from 8 to 25, a Whippet called Albert and an impossibly busy schedule.

  • Realist Solutions to the Problematic of Music and the Ineffable. American Maritain Association 43rd Annual Conference, 2020, Franciscan University and Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius.
  • Thomist Foundations for a Theological Aesthetic of Musical Beauty. Theology, Creativity and the Arts, Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, July 2019, Cambridge.
  • Thomist Foundations for a Theological Aesthetic of Musical Beauty. American Maritain Association 42nd Annual Conference, 2019, DeSales University.
  • Understanding Tragedy Truthfully: J.S. Bach’s Zerfliesse Mein Hertze. Plenary speaker at American Maritain Association 42nd Annual Conference, 2019, DeSales University.
  • Musical Beauty, God and the Church: Early Historical-Ecclesiological Contexts. Music Research Conference, 2019, The Open University, UK.
  • Four Events in the Life of Christ in Poetry and Painting: Donne’s La Corona. The Parish Church of St Michael, Highgate, Michaelmas Term 2017.
  • The Music Aesthetic Inside Maritain’s Notion of Poetic Knowledge. American Maritain Asssociation 40th Annual Conference, 2017, Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans.
  • Can’t Sing, Won’t Sing! The Melodic, Harmonic and Rhythmic Decline of Vocal Memory in Congregational Singing. The 3rd Biennial Christian Congregational Music Conference, 2015, Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford.
  • The Dynamics of Knowing: Process in the Experience of Composer, Performer and Listener. The Society for the Study of Theology Annual Conference 2010, Manchester University.
  • The American Maritain Association
  • Society for Christian Scholarship in Music
  • The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
  • PhD (Philosophy and Music), Open University, UK
  • MA (Music Education), University College London, Institute of Education
  • BMus Hons (Music), London, Royal Academy of Music