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As part of the National Council Meeting of the Buddhist Churches of America, the Institute of Buddhist Studies hosts an annual symposium. I was asked to contribute a paper to the 2009 Symposium, and the theme was American Shin Buddhist music or, more extravagantly, “The Great Sound of Enlightenment.”
Several years ago I presented a paper to the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies on a similar topic. So, I’ve revisited the issue. But these two places have very different audiences, so I’ve tried to make this paper a bit less academic and bit more conversational and more appropriate for the more non-academic audience.
This paper explores the historical development of the Buddhist Churches of Americaâ€™s Shin Buddhist Service Book, a collection of English and Japanese language liturgical pieces and gathas. I examine this history from the point of view of transnational religion, highlighting the multiple ways in which Shin Buddhist gathas migrated across the Pacific and influences Shin Buddhism in both Japan and the United States. This paper is a revision to a paper presented to the XII biennial conference of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, later published in Pure Land (No. 21, 2005).