Christian music

Christian music

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Christian music is music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 that has been written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 life and faith. Common themes of Christian music include praise
Praise
Praise is the act of making positive statements about a person, object or idea, either in public or privately. Praise is typically, but not exclusively, earned relative to achievement and accomplishment...

, worship
Worship
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The absolute...

, penitence, and lament
Lament
A lament or lamentation is a song, poem, or piece of music expressing grief, regret, or mourning.-History:Many of the oldest and most lasting poems in human history have been laments. Laments are present in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and laments continued to be sung in elegiacs accompanied by...

, 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
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

, or worship band. It is frequently accompanied by instruments, but some denominations (such as some Exclusive Brethren
Exclusive Brethren
The Exclusive Brethren are a subset of the Christian evangelical movement generally described as the Plymouth Brethren. They are distinguished from the Open Brethren from whom they separated in 1848....

, the Churches of Christ, the Primitive Baptists and the Free Church of Scotland) or congregations still prefer unaccompanied or a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

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.

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
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 period in Europe, the chorale prelude
Chorale prelude
In music, a chorale prelude is a short liturgical composition for organ using a chorale tune as its basis. It was a predominant style of the German Baroque era and reached its culmination in the works of J.S. Bach, who wrote 46 examples of the form in his Orgelbüchlein.-Function:The liturgical...

 (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
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

, Dietrich Buxtehude, Georg Friedrich Handel, Francois Couperin
François Couperin
François Couperin was a French Baroque composer, organist and harpsichordist. He was known as Couperin le Grand to distinguish him from other members of the musically talented Couperin family.-Life:Couperin was born in Paris...

, César Franck
César Franck
César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life....

 and Charles-Marie Widor
Charles-Marie Widor
Charles-Marie Jean Albert Widor was a French organist, composer and teacher.-Life:Widor was born in Lyon, to a family of organ builders, and initially studied music there with his father, François-Charles Widor, titular organist of Saint-François-de-Sales from 1838 to 1889...

 to name a few. Up to the present time, various composers have written instrumental (often organ
Organ (music)
The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

) music as acts of worship, including well known organ repertoire by composers like Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

, Louis Vierne
Louis Vierne
Louis Victor Jules Vierne was a French organist and composer.-Life:Louis Vierne was born in Poitiers, Vienne, nearly blind due to congenital cataracts, but at an early age was discovered to have an unusual gift for music. Louis Victor Jules Vierne (8 October 1870 – 2 June 1937) was a French...

, Maurice Duruflé
Maurice Duruflé
Maurice Duruflé was a French composer, organist, and pedagogue.Duruflé was born in Louviers, Eure. In 1912, he became chorister at the Rouen Cathedral Choir School, where he studied piano and organ with Jules Haelling...

, and Jean Langlais
Jean Langlais
Jean Langlais was a French composer of modern classical music, organist, and improviser.- Biography :Jean Langlais was born in La Fontenelle , a small village near Mont St Michel, France...

.

The church sonata (for orchestra and chamber group) and other sacred instrumental musical forms also developed from the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 period onwards.

Contemporary Christian music


From the late twentieth century to the present day in Western Christendom, various genres of music - often related to soft rock
Soft rock
Soft rock is a style of music which uses the techniques of rock music to compose a softer, more toned-down sound. Soft rock songs generally tend to focus on themes like love, everyday life and relationships. The genre tends to make heavy use of acoustic guitars, pianos, synthesizers and sometimes...

 - 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 country music
Christian country music is music that is written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music...

, Christian pop, Christian rock
Christian rock
Christian rock is a form of rock music played by individuals and bands whose members are Christians and who often focus the lyrics on matters concerned with the Christian faith. The extent to which their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies between bands...

, Christian metal
Christian metal
Christian metal, also known as white metal, is a form of heavy metal music usually defined by its message in a song's lyrics as well as the band's dedication to Christianity...

, Christian hardcore
Christian hardcore
Christian hardcore refers to metalcore and hardcore punk bands that promote Christian beliefs. How these bands promote Christianity, and to what extent, varies between bands...

, Christian punk
Christian punk
Christian punk is a form of Christian music and a subgenre of punk rock with some degree of Christian lyrical content. Much disagreement persists about the boundaries of the subgenre, and the extent that their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies among bands...

, Christian alternative rock
Christian alternative rock
Christian alternative rock is a form of alternative rock music that is lyrically grounded in a Christian worldview. Some critics have suggested that unlike CCM and older Christian rock, Christian alternative rock generally emphasizes musical style over lyrical content as a defining genre...

 and Christian hip hop
Christian hip hop
Christian hip hop is hip hop music characterized by a Christian worldview, with the general purposes of evangelization , edifying members of the church and/or simply entertaining.-History:Since hip-hop started in the 1970s, various hip-hop artists have...

.
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
Evangelization
Evangelization is that process in the Christian religion which seeks to spread the Gospel and the knowledge of the Gospel throughout the world. It can be defined as so:-The birth of Christian evangelization:...

 for the young but this genre is best known and seen in the Evangelical
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 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
Latin Grammy Awards
A Latin Grammy Award is an accolade by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. Unlike the regular Grammy Award which primarily honors music produced in the United States, the Latin Grammy honors works produced anywhere around the...

.

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.

Industry



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
Jesus movement
The Jesus movement was a movement in Christianity beginning on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and spreading primarily through North America and Europe, before dying out by the early 1980s. It was the major Christian element within the hippie counterculture,...

, the Christian music industry
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 industry, although this designation is not a limitation...

 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.

Media



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
LP album
The LP, or long-playing microgroove record, is a format for phonograph records, an analog sound storage medium. Introduced by Columbia Records in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry...

, digital download
Music download
A music download is the transferral of music from an Internet-facing computer or website to a user's local computer. This term encompasses both legal downloads and downloads of copyright material without permission or payment...

, DVD
DVD
A DVD is an optical disc storage media format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions....

, etc.) have been increasingly more popular and have continued to increase in sales.

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
Christian Festival Association
The Christian Festival Association was formed in September 2006. The group consists of members representing major Christian music festivals held in the United States. Collectively, this group represents over 1.5 million attendees, and are held between April and December, with most held during the...

, there are also many Christian conferences
Academic conference
An academic conference or symposium is a conference for researchers to present and discuss their work. Together with academic or scientific journals, conferences provide an important channel for exchange of information between researchers.-Overview:Conferences are usually composed of various...

 which focus more on speakers, but usually also have musical performances, especially for a Worship service.

The Ichthus Music Festival
Ichthus Music Festival
The Ichthus Music Festival is an annual Christian music festival in Wilmore, Kentucky. Begun in 1970, it is the oldest Christian music festival in the nation. The festival began as the brainchild of Dr. Bob Lyon, and a group of seminary students at Asbury Theological Seminary, in response to...

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

Concerts


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
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 (evangelizing by bearing witness of one's faith), and other times may be part worship
Contemporary worship
Contemporary worship is a form of Christian worship that emerged within Western evangelical Protestantism in the twentieth century. It was originally confined to the charismatic movement, but is now found to varying extents in a wide range of churches, including many that do not subscribe to a...

 as well.

See also



  • Byzantine music
    Byzantine music
    Byzantine music is the music of the Byzantine Empire composed to Greek texts as ceremonial, festival, or church music. Greek and foreign historians agree that the ecclesiastical tones and in general the whole system of Byzantine music is closely related to the ancient Greek system...

  • Christian hip hop
    Christian hip hop
    Christian hip hop is hip hop music characterized by a Christian worldview, with the general purposes of evangelization , edifying members of the church and/or simply entertaining.-History:Since hip-hop started in the 1970s, various hip-hop artists have...

  • Christian metal
    Christian metal
    Christian metal, also known as white metal, is a form of heavy metal music usually defined by its message in a song's lyrics as well as the band's dedication to Christianity...

  • Christian radio
    Christian radio
    Christian radio is a category of radio formats that focus on transmitting programming with a Christian message. In the United States, where it is more established, many such broadcasters play popular music of Christian influence, though many programs have talk or news programming covering...

  • Christian rock
    Christian rock
    Christian rock is a form of rock music played by individuals and bands whose members are Christians and who often focus the lyrics on matters concerned with the Christian faith. The extent to which their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies between bands...

  • Church music
    Church music
    Church music may be defined as music written for performance in church, or any musical setting of ecclestiacal liturgy, or music set to words expressing propositions of a sacred nature, such as a hymn. This article covers music in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. For sacred music outside this...

  • Contemporary worship music
  • Gospel music
    Gospel music
    Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life, as well as to give a Christian alternative to mainstream secular music....

  • Gregorian chant
    Gregorian chant
    Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services...

  • History of music in the biblical period
    History of music in the Biblical period
    Knowledge of the biblical period is mostly from literary references in the Bible and post-biblical sources. Religion and music historian Herbert Lockyer, Jr...

  • Hymn
    Hymn
    A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

  • Liturgical music
    Liturgical music
    Liturgical music originated as a part of religious ceremony, and includes a number of traditions, both ancient and modern. Liturgical music is well known as a part of Catholic Mass, the Anglican Holy Communion service , the Lutheran Divine Service, the Orthodox liturgy and other Christian services...

  • Mass (music)
    Mass (music)
    The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

  • Religious music
    Religious music
    Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions'...

  • Worship presentation program

Suggested reading

  • Boyer, Horace Clarence, How Sweet the Sound: The Golden Age of Gospel Elliott and Clark, 1995, ISBN 0-252-06877-7.
  • Broughton, Viv, Too Close To Heaven - The Illustrated History Of Gospel Music, Midnight Books, 1996, ISBN 1-900516-00-4
  • Albert E Brumley & Sons, The Best of Albert E Brumley, Gospel Songs, 1966, ISBN na-paperback Amazing Grace
  • Darden, Robert, People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 0-8264-1752-3.
  • Heilbut, Tony
    Anthony Heilbut
    Anthony Heilbut , is an American writer, and record producer of gospel music. He is noted for his biography of Thomas Mann, and has also won a Grammy Award.-Life:He has a doctorate in English from Harvard University....

    , The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times Limelight Editions, 1997, ISBN 0-87910-034-6.
  • Zolten, Jerry
    Jerry Zolten
    Jerry Zolten is an American writer and advocate of roots music. He is known as the author of a book tracing the 30-plus year career of the African-American Dixie Hummingbirds gospel group and their influence on both sacred and secular music. Zolten is also known for numerous articles and CD liner...

    , Great God A' Mighty!:The Dixie Hummingbirds - Celebrating The Rise Of Soul Gospel Music, Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-19-515272-7.
  • Enciclopedia Cecilia (in Spanish) Includes a Catholic Encyclopedia about music, wiki-style
  • Palackal, Joseph, Syriac Chant Traditions in South India