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 with a positive message as an entertainment product for the marketplace.
|Cultural origins||Ancient, Christianity|
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 by a specialized subgroup—such as a soloist, duet, trio, quartet, madrigal, choir, or worship band— or both. 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. Some groups, such as the Bruderhof, sing songs both with religious and non-religious meanings and words. For them, the act of singing is important. One of the earliest forms of worship music in the church was the Gregorian chant. Pope Gregory I, while not the inventor of chant, was acknowledged as the first person to order such music in the church, hinting the name "Gregorian" chant. The chant reform 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 had a tendency to create cacophony, which ruined the music, Gregory I kept things very simple with the chant.
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.
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, Dieterich Buxtehude, George Frideric Handel, François 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.
From the latter half of the 20th century to the present day in Western Christendom—especially in the United States and in other countries with evangelical churches—various genres of music originally often related to pop rock, have been created under the label of Contemporary Christian Music ("CCM") for home-listening and concert use. It can be divided into several genres and subgenres, 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 subgenres 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 in a generalized form, this is a relatively new musical movement and has now evolved into 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 the genre is best known and seen in the Evangelical or Protestant proselytizing movements, often using rhythms similar to those in secular music.
CCM is not a musical genre like the other genres. When a song is identified as "Christian" it takes into account the lyrics and the songwriters and performers, rather than musical style. Therefore, one can say that CCM is diverse and there are Christian songs that are sung to the rhythm of salsa, reggae, rock, folk, hip-hop or rap, ballads, pop, country, singer-songwriters and even extreme music such as punk or heavy metal.
Similar developments took place in other language, for example the German Neues Geistliches Lied and Korean Contemporary Christian music.
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 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.
Christian Musicals is another growing area, especially with the help of the internet. Church drama groups frequently enjoy performing musical dramas which can be downloaded on-line for free use.
In the US 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.
New Zealand's Parachute Music Festival, the largest Christian music festival in the Southern Hemisphere, began in 1989 and is held annually at Mystery Creek Events Centre outside the city of Hamilton.
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.
Amy Lee Grant (born November 25, 1960) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, author and media personality. She is known for performing contemporary Christian music (CCM) and for a successful crossover to pop music in the 1980s and 1990s. She has been referred to as "The Queen of Christian Pop".As of 2009, she had sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, won six Grammy Awards and 22 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and had the first Christian album to go Platinum. She was honored with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for her contributions to the entertainment industry. She made her debut as a teenager, and gained fame in Christian music during the 1980s with such hits as "Father's Eyes", "El Shaddai", and "Angels". In the mid-1980s, she began broadening her audience and soon became one of the first CCM artists to cross over into mainstream pop on the heels of her successful albums Unguarded and Lead Me On. In 1986, she scored her first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 song in a duet with Peter Cetera, "The Next Time I Fall". In 1991, she released the blockbuster album Heart in Motion which became her best-selling album to date, topping the Billboard Christian album chart for 32 weeks, selling five million copies in the U.S., and producing her second No. 1 pop single "Baby Baby". She is the author of several books, including a memoir, Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far, and a book based on the popular Christmas song Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) which she co-wrote.CCM Magazine
CCM Magazine is a twice monthly online magazine about contemporary Christian music, published by Salem Publishing, a division of Salem Communications.Capitol Christian Music Group
Capitol Christian Music Group (Capitol CMG) (formerly known as EMI Christian Music Group) is an American music group that, since 2013, is under the ownership of Universal Music Group. It is based in Brentwood, Tennessee. Capitol CMG is in the Christian Gospel music industry.Capitol CMG is a company whose assets include such labels as Sparrow and ForeFront Records as well as the industry's distribution company and a publishing company.
Capitol CMG features artists such as Chris Tomlin, TobyMac, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, CeCe Winans, Hillsong United and NF.Chris Tomlin
Christopher Dwayne Tomlin (born May 4, 1972) is an American contemporary Christian music artist, worship leader, and songwriter from Grand Saline, Texas, United States who has sold over 7 million records. He is a member of Passion Conferences and is signed to EMI's sixstepsrecords. Some of his most well-known songs are "How Great Is Our God", "Good Good Father", "Our God", and "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)".
Tomlin has been awarded 23 GMA Dove Awards, a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for his 2012 album And If Our God Is For Us, and two RIAA certified platinum albums. Because of his songs' popularity in many contemporary churches, TIME magazine stated he may be the "most often sung artist anywhere". Tomlin's 2013 album Burning Lights debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the fourth CCM album in history to do so.Christian Songs
Hot Christian Songs (also known as National Christian Audience) is a Billboard chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States.
From its inception in June 2003 through November 2013, the Christian Songs chart ranked the top songs by calculating overall audience impressions of songs played on contemporary Christian music radio stations. Sales from digital downloads were not factored in. With the Billboard issue dated December 7, 2013, the Christian Songs chart began using the same methodology used for the Hot 100 chart to compile its rankings; that is, measuring the airplay of Christian songs across all radio formats, while incorporating data from digital sales and streaming activity.The current number-one song, as of the chart dated for May 4, 2019, is "You Say" by Lauren Daigle.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 characteristic, though the degree to which the faith appears in the music varies from artist to artist.Christian hardcore
Christian hardcore (or Christcore) refers to hardcore punk bands that promote Christian beliefs. How these bands promote Christianity, and to what extent, varies between bands. Christian hardcore bands often openly state their beliefs and employ Christian imagery in their lyrics, and may be considered a part of the Christian music industry.
Fans of Christian hardcore music are not exclusively believers in the Christian religion. Thanks to some innovators in the hardcore movement such as Extol, Zao, Living Sacrifice, and the hardcore movement in general, the audience has become less exclusive. Though the audience of Christian music has changed over the years, the same underlying message of hope and truth still remains a cornerstone in the lyrics of Christian hardcore.Christian hip hop
Christian hip hop (originally gospel rap, also known as Christian rap, gospel hip hop or holy hip hop) is a subgenre of hip hop music characterized by a Christian worldview, with the general purposes of evangelization (Christian mission work), edifying some members of the church and/or simply entertaining. Christian hip hop music emerged from urban communities in the United States in the 1980s, when it existed almost exclusively in small underground scenes, with minimal formal industry promotion and little mainstream attention. It emphasizes the use of positive and uplifting messages to promote faith and belief.
Christian hip hop music, blending rhythmic music and faith-based lyrics, first emerged on record in 1982 with a track entitled "Jesus Christ (The Gospel Beat)" by Queens, New York artist McSweet. The first full-length, Christian hip hop album, Bible Break, by Oklahoma artist Stephen Wiley, was released in 1985 with the title track becoming a hit on Christian radio in 1986. Other early Christian hip recording artists from the mid-1980s included P.I.D. (Preachas in Disguise), who recorded to funky rock rhythms, as well as JC & the Boys and Michael Peace.
The most prominent Christian rappers have been tobyMac, who was the first rapper to have success in the mainstream Christian music scene, and Lecrae, who has emerged recently on the mainstream rap scene. Christian rap has almost exclusively come out of Protestant traditions in the United States, although there is a small Catholic rap scene that has recently emerged, and there are also small Christian rap scenes in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada and many other countries where Christians reside and where hip hop music is popular.Christian music industry
The Christian music industry is a small part of the larger music industry, that focuses on traditional Gospel music, Southern gospel, contemporary Christian music, and alternative Christian music. It is sometimes called the gospel music industry, although this designation is not a limitation on the musical styles represented.
Christian artists generally use secular styles, pairing them with lyrics that display faith and spirituality to varying degrees. Generally speaking, the industry is influenced by mainstream culture. Musical trends, for instance, follow those of the secular scene, though usually a few years behind. The Christian music industry carries the distinction of being the only music subculture whose content is labeled by its lyrical dimension rather than its music. Still, music within the industry is sold by its musical style rather than lyrical content.
Christian music's critics point to the divergent interests of commercialization and ministry, which have, according to some, polar opposite goals. Aspects of Christian music have long struggled to gain general acceptance, even within the Christian community. What some see as secularization and a lacking of direct theology, others see as artistic ministry. This opens up questions of the definition of "Christian music" that have lingered over the industry since its inception.
The Christian music industry experienced tremendous growth in the 1990s. Christian music sales grew to exceed those for classical, jazz, and new age music. Even so, the Christian music industry has experienced the same issues as the general market in recent years.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 most established, many such broadcasters play contemporary Christian music, though many programs include talk or news programming covering economic, political or religious topics.Christian rock
Christian rock is a form of rock music that features lyrics focusing on matters of Christian faith, often with an emphasis on Jesus, typically performed by self-proclaimed Christian individuals. The extent to which their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies between bands. Many bands who perform Christian rock have ties to the contemporary Christian music labels, media outlets, and festivals, while other bands are independent.Contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music (or CCM—and occasionally "inspirational music") is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith. It formed as those affected by the 1960s Jesus movement revival began to express themselves in a more contemporary style of music than the hymns, Gospel and Southern gospel music that was prevalent in the church at the time. Today, the term is typically used to refer to pop, rock, or praise & worship styles.
It has representation on several music charts including Billboard's Christian Albums, Christian Songs, Hot Christian AC (Adult Contemporary), Christian CHR, Soft AC/Inspirational, and Christian Digital Songs as well as the UK's Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart. Top-selling CCM artists will also appear on the Billboard 200. In the iTunes Store, the genre is represented as part of the Christian and gospel genre while the Google Play Music system labels it as Christian/Gospel.Cross Rhythms
Cross Rhythms is a Christian media organisation based in Stoke-on-Trent, England. It operates an FM and online radio station, produces radio shows sent internationally, and its website has resources on contemporary Christian music.Gospel music
Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony) with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.Gospel blues is a blues-based form of gospel music (a combination of blues guitar and evangelistic lyrics). Southern gospel used all male, tenor-lead-baritone-bass quartet make-up. Progressive Southern gospel is an American music genre that has grown out of Southern gospel over the past couple of decades. Christian country music, sometimes referred to as country gospel music, is a subgenre of gospel music with a country flair. It peaked in popularity in the mid-1990s.
Bluegrass gospel music is rooted in American mountain music. Celtic gospel music infuses gospel music with a Celtic flair, and is quite popular in countries such as Ireland. British black gospel refers to Gospel music of the African diaspora, which has been produced in the UK. Some proponents of "standard" hymns generally dislike gospel music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, with historical distance, there is a greater acceptance of such gospel songs into official denominational hymnals.Kathie Lee Gifford
Kathryn Lee Gifford (née Epstein; born August 16, 1953) is an American television host, singer, songwriter, and author. She is best known for her 15-year run (1985–2000) on the talk show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, which she co-hosted with Regis Philbin. She is also known for her 11-year run with Hoda Kotb, on the fourth hour of NBC's Today show (2008-2019). She has received 11 Daytime Emmy nominations and won her first Daytime Emmy in 2010 as part of the Today team. Gifford's first television role had been as Tom Kennedy's singer/sidekick on the syndicated version of Name That Tune, from 1974 to 1978. She also occasionally appeared on the first three hours of Today and was a contributing NBC News correspondent.
Kathie Lee married Paul Johnson, a Christian composer/arranger/producer/publisher in 1976. After their divorce in 1982, she married sportscaster and former NFL player Frank Gifford in 1986. He died in 2015. Kathie Lee has released studio albums and written books.Lauren Daigle
Lauren Ashley Daigle (born September 9, 1991) is an American contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter. After being signed to the label Centricity Music, she released her debut album, How Can It Be, in 2015. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart, has been certified Platinum by the RIAA and produced three No. 1 singles on the Billboard Christian Airplay chart ("First", "Trust in You," and "O'Lord").
Daigle's third studio album, Look Up Child, was released in September 2018. Bolstered by the pop crossover success of the single "You Say", it went on to debut at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the highest-charting Christian album by a woman in over 20 years, and No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums chart, with 115,000 album-equivalent units sold in the first week. The album's lead single, "You Say", peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard 100 chart and has broken the record for the number of weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart at 35 weeks for any solo artist. The album and single earned Daigle two Grammy Awards.
In addition to two Grammy Awards, Daigle has won seven GMA Dove Awards, three Billboard Music Awards, two American Music Awards and has had four No. 1 singles on both the Billboard Christian Airplay and Hot Christian Songs chart.Religious music
Religious music (also sacred music) is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence. Ritual music is music, sacred or not, performed or composed for or as ritual.Sparrow Records
Sparrow Records is a Christian music record label and a division of Universal Music Group.Steven Curtis Chapman
Steven Curtis Chapman (born November 21, 1962) is an American contemporary Christian music singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, author, and social activist.
After starting his career in the late 1980s as a songwriter and performer of contemporary Christian music, Chapman has since been recognized as one of the most prolific singers in the genre, releasing over 20 albums. Chapman has also won five Grammy awards and 58 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, more than any other artist in history. His seven "Artist of the Year" Dove Awards, his latest in 2009, are also an industry record. As of 2014, Chapman has sold more than 10 million albums and has 10 RIAA-certified Gold or Platinum albums.Chapman is also a vocal advocate for adoption, along with his wife Mary Beth. Together, they have started a charity organization called Show Hope (formerly called Shaohannah's Hope), that mobilizes individuals and communities to care for orphans through its international orphan care work as well as adoption aid grants to help put more orphans from overseas and the U.S. in loving families. In 2009, Show Hope finished building Maria's Big House of Hope, a medical care center in China that provides holistic care to orphans with special needs. He is also a contributor to Compassionart, a charity founded by Martin Smith of British Christian band Delirious?.
Chapman was recognized in the Fall 2010 issue of Wood & Steel discussing the new Taylor 714 Signature Series guitar in honor of his youngest daughter Maria Sue. The guitar features the flower from Maria's picture and the word "SEE" on the 12th fret in Maria's handwriting. In 2003, Chapman starred in the Christian film Christmas Child.
|Roots and beginnings|