Christian music is music created by or adapted for the Christian church. It also includes Contemporary
Christian music, in which the music explores Christian themes but is designed to be played in places other than
There is record of the earliest music of the Christian church in a few New Testament books of what are probably
hymns. Some of these fragments are still sung as hymns today in the Orthodox Church, including "Awake, awake O
sleeper" on the occasion of someone's baptism.
Being Jewish, Jesus and his disciples would most likely have sung the psalms from memory. However, without a
centralised music industry, the repertoire of ordinary people was much greater than it is today, so they probably
knew other songs too. Early Christians continued to sing the psalms much as they were sung in the synagogues in
the first century.
Early Biblical references
The gospels of Matthew (26:30) and Mark (14:26) state that Jesus sang a hymn with his disciples immediately before
his betrayal. The apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians (5:19) exhorted the church at Ephesus to speak to each other
"in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord". In the book of
Colossians (3:16) he also encouraged the church at Colossae to teach and admonish each other with "psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs".
Early Church history
Aside from hymns taken from the Bible itself, the earliest hymn still in use today is probably O Gladsome Light
(Greek F?? '??a???, Phos Hilaron). In the fourth century, Basil the Great referred to it as already being a
rather old hymn.
Some of the popularity of Arianism in the fourth century can be attributed to the catchy songs that the priest Arius
composed in its support. The popularity of the songs helped increase the popularity of his teachings. Ephrem the
Syrian composed a number of hymns later in the fourth century that supported what eventually came to be recognised as
more orthodox doctrines.
Troparia and Kontakia are two early forms of hymns that became incorporated into the Church's worship.
At the conclusion of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, Emperor Justinian I is reputed to have composed a hymn summarizing
the council's conclusion, Only begotten Son. That hymn was since incorporated into the Divine Liturgy of John
Chrysostom and is still widely sung today.
Byzantine music is the music of the Byzantine Empire and by extension the music of its culture(s) as they continued in
the Orthodox Christian parts of the population after the fall of the empire to the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
Around the 8th to 10th centuries, Gregorian chant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied singing, developed in the
Catholic church. While its roots are somewhat obscure, the chant was classified into eight modes derived from
Byzantine chant. The texts that are chanted are mostly from the Bible, and mostly in Latin (there are some Greek
texts such as Kyrie eleison and Hagios Theos}. Gregorian chant has gone through periods of decline and revival, most
notably, the revival at Solesmes, where an official Vatican Edition of the Chant was produced. Most editions of
Gregorian chant available today can be traced to the work of the Solesmes monks.
Since Vatican II, the use of liturgical Latin has declined, and with it, Gregorian chant. However, the immense
popularity of the recordings of the Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos in the 1990's has suggested that there is an
enthusiastic audience for chant.
The tradition of Christian hymns in the English language is closely tied to Protestantism. Protestant hymns can
range from the Reformation organ pieces of J. S. Bach to the American folk hymns found in The Sacred Harp. Martin
Luther composed a number of hymns in the 16th century, reportedly borrowing some of their melodies from popular
tavern drinking songs of that period. Another famous hymn composer is Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley.
Dwight L. Armstrong, younger brother of American evangelist Herbert W. Armstrong, was a prolific composer who's
scripturally based hymns appeared in the Worldwide Church of God's hymnals, as well as in the hymnals of churches
who's origins are in the Worldwide Church of God. Herbert W. Armstrong believed that the words of many traditional
Christian hymns were unscriptural, and thus commissioned his brother to write hymns based on the psalms and other
Some hymns, particularly Christmas carols, are widely embraced by various denominations while many hymns are
restricted to certain religious traditions. In some cases this is due to doctrinal differences reflected in the
words of the song but in many cases it is the result of tradition and the use of denominationally produced or
The use of hymns was a factor in several historic schisms among Protestant denominations with more traditional
members insisting on the use of only the psalms in the service.
Contemporary Christian music
The most recent common form of Christian music is Contemporary Christian music, or CCM. This draws most of its
influence from secular music of the late 20th century and is the most popular kind of Christian music in the
Western world. Although there are many Christian music acts in the mainstream music industry, the term CCM usually
refers specifically to artists within the Christian music industry that are played on Christian radio. If you look
hard enough, there is a "Christian music" counterpart to nearly every popular musical style. Besides Contemporary
Christian music, Black Gospel, Southern Gospel, and Christian country music are also popular in the US.
- Air 1
- K Love
- The Gospel Station
Brazilian Christian music
While Brazilian Protestantism came to be dominated by pasteurised CCM-influenced pop music, there was a period from
the 1970s to the early 1990s when there was a creative movement adapting various Brazilian styles, mainly MPB, to
religious meanings and even congregational singing.
While very little is left of this movement, known simply as 'Música Evangélica' to contrast with the pop,
commercialised, CCM-like 'Música Gospel', there are still some groups and persons continuing the creative tradition,
such as Guilherme Kerr. Furthermore, there are a few individuals creating Brazilian Christian music out of any
specific movement or school, the most famous one being Elomar Figueira de Mello, known for his erudite, regionalist
music escaping current nihilism common in Contemporary music.
- Christian Metal
- Christian Rock
- Christian country music
- Southern Gospel
- Christian hip hop
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It uses material from the Wikipedia article - Christian music