Christian music

Christian music

Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life and faith. Common themes of Christian music include praise, worship, penitence, and lament, and its forms vary widely across the world.

Like other forms of music the creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of Christian music varies according to culture and social context. Christian music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace.


Worship services

Among the most prevalent uses of Christian music are in church worship or other gatherings. Most Christian music involves singing, whether by the whole congregation (assembly) or a specialized subgroup—such as a duet, trio, quartet, madrigal, choir, or worship band. It is frequently accompanied by instruments, but some denominations (such as some Exclusive Brethren, the Churches of Christ, the Primitive Baptists and the Free Church of Scotland) or congregations still prefer unaccompanied or a cappella singing. One of the earliest forms of worship music in the church was the Gregorian chant. Pope Gregory I was acknowledged as the first person to order such music in the church, hinting the name “Gregorian” chant. The chant took place around 590-604 CE (reign of Pope Gregory I) (Kamien, pg. 65-67). The Gregorian chant was known for its very monophonic sound. Believing that complexity ruined the music, Gregory I kept things very simple with the chant.[1]

Instrumental accompaniment

In the West, the majority of Christian denominations use instruments such as an organ, piano, electronic keyboard, guitar, or other accompaniment, and occasionally by a band or orchestra, to accompany the singing. But some churches have historically not used instruments, citing their absence from the New Testament. During the last century or so several of these groups have revised this stance.

The singing of the Eastern Orthodox is also generally unaccompanied, though in the United States organs are sometimes used as a result of Western influence.

Instrumental music

Some worship music may be unsung, simply instrumental. During the Baroque period in Europe, the chorale prelude (for organ) was widely used, generally composed by using a popular hymn tune thematically, and a wide corpus of other solo organ music began to develop across Europe. Some of the most well-known exponents of such organ compositions include Johann Sebastian Bach, Dietrich Buxtehude, Georg Friedrich Handel, Francois Couperin, César Franck and Charles-Marie Widor to name a few. Up to the present time, various composers have written instrumental (often organ) music as acts of worship, including well known organ repertoire by composers like Olivier Messiaen, Louis Vierne, Maurice Duruflé, and Jean Langlais.

The church sonata (for orchestra and chamber group) and other sacred instrumental musical forms also developed from the Baroque period onwards.

Contemporary Christian music

Contemporary Christian music singers

From the late twentieth century to the present day in Western Christendom, various genres of music - often related to soft rock - have been created under the label of Contemporary Christian Music for home-listening and concert use. It can be divided into several genres and sub-genres, although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to individual interpretation, and occasionally controversial. These genres (sometimes referred to as 'style') like other forms of music may be distinguished by the techniques, the styles, the context and the themes, or geographical origin. Specific sub-genres of CCM may include (but are not limited to): Christian country music, Christian pop, Christian rock, Christian metal, Christian hardcore, Christian punk, Christian alternative rock and Christian hip hop. Called Christian pop or gospel a generalized form, is a musical movement almost new and was now evolved into a day, a large number of musical genres by region that comes in a Christian context This movement appeared as a form of evangelization for the young but this genre is best known and seen in the Evangelical or Protestant proselytizing movements, often using rhythms similar to those in secular music.

The Christian music scene has transcended genres to be taken into account in representative competitions worldwide music of the likes of Latin Grammy Awards.[citation needed]

Contemporary Christian music is not a musical genre like the other genres. When a song is identified as "Christian" it is done taking into account the lyrics, the song-writers and performers, rather than musical style. Therefore, one can say that contemporary Christian music is diverse, and there are Christian songs that are sung to the rhythm of salsa, reggae, rock, folk, hip-hop or rap, ballads, pop, singer-songwriters and even extreme music such as punk or heavy metal.


Christian music is supported by a segment of the general music industry, which evolved as a parallel structure to the same. Beginning in the 1970s and developing out of the Jesus Movement, the Christian music industry subsequently developed into a near-billion dollar enterprise. By the 1990s the genre had eclipsed classical, jazz, and new age music, and artists began gaining limited acceptance in the general market.


Today, Christian music is available through most available media. Christian music is broadcast over the radio, television, or the Internet. Christian Albums and video recordings (CD, LP, digital download, DVD, etc.) have been increasingly more popular and have continued to increase in sales.[2]

Music festivals and conferences

In the USA several Christian music festivals have been organized. They are common in the summertime and draw many different people, specifically those from organized groups such as church youth groups and campus groups. In addition to music festivals like those that are part of the Christian Festival Association, there are also many Christian conferences which focus more on speakers, but usually also have musical performances, especially for a Worship service.

The Ichthus Music Festival started in 1970. Today festivals are held annually around the world, and may draw upwards of 100,000 people.


Like any musical group or act, many Christian musical artists perform concerts in concert halls, bars & clubs, or outdoor venues, as well as in Church-related venues. Sometimes it may be for pure entertainment, other times with the intention of witnessing (evangelizing by bearing witness of one's faith), and other times may be part worship as well.

See also


  1. ^ Kamien, Roger. Music: An Appreciation. 9th ed. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.
  2. ^ Steve Turner. "Obituary: Larry Norman | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-27. 

External links

Suggested reading

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Christian music industry — The Christian music industry is a small part of the larger music industry, that focuses on traditional Gospel music, Southern Gospel music, Contemporary Christian music, and alternative Christian music. It is sometimes called the gospel music… …   Wikipedia

  • Christian music festival — A Christian music festival (also known as a Jesus music festival or simply a Jesus festival) is a music festival held by the Christian community, in support of performers of Christian music. The festivals are characterized by more than just… …   Wikipedia

  • Contemporary Christian music — Stylistic origins Jesus music, Christian music, pop music, rock music Cultural origins Late 1960s, US Typical instruments Vocals, guitar, drums, bass guitar, keyboards, piano …   Wikipedia

  • Portal:Christian music — Shortcut: WP:CMP Shortcut: P:CM Wi …   Wikipedia

  • Paul Smith (christian music) — Infobox musical artist Name = Paul Smith Img capt = Paul Smith Img size = Landscape = Background = solo singer Birth name = Paul Charles Smith Alias = Born = Died = Origin = United States Instrument = Voice type = Genre = Contemporary Christian… …   Wikipedia

  • Magic Christian Music — Studio album by Badfinger Released 9 January 1970 ( …   Wikipedia

  • Today's Christian Music — is a radio format programmed and produced by Salem Radio Networks. It targets the 25 54 adult Christian listener demographic. Today s Christian Music has a blend of Contemporary Christian music from artists such as Amy Grant, Steven Curtis… …   Wikipedia

  • Korean Contemporary Christian music — (or Korean CCM) refers to Contemporary Christian music written or played in South Korea. Due to the dramatic growth of Christianity in Korea, CCM has been gaining popularity among Korean Christians. HistoryAfter the Korean War, missionaries from… …   Wikipedia

  • EMI Christian Music Group — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda EMI Christian Music Group EMI Christian Music Group Fundada 1931 Fundador(es) unión de la UK Columbia Graphophone Company y la Gramophone Company. Distribuidor EMI Group (EE. UU.) Género(s) Cristiano …   Wikipedia Español

  • Contemporary Christian Music — Die Artikel Christlicher Rock und Christliche Popmusik überschneiden sich thematisch. Hilf mit, die Artikel besser voneinander abzugrenzen oder zu vereinigen. Beteilige dich dazu an der Diskussion über diese Überschneidungen. Bitte entferne… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.