Guest / Limited Access /


A Variety of Religious Composition

In the March issue of Christianity Today, we devoted a number of articles to worship music. The passionate and diverse response of readers was not unexpected! We promised more reflection on this theme, and on worship in general. In this issue, we offer two more pieces. The second piece (which will be posted on Friday), written by a professor well grounded in ancient church history, asks fundamental questions about the nature of some forms of contemporary worship. The first piece, written by a contemporary composer, discusses the strengths and limitations of what we today call contemporary worship music.— The Editors

Before earning a doctorate in music composition and becoming a university music professor, I spent many years playing keyboards and singing in CCM and praise and worship bands, and before that, in nightclub and party bands. I worked as a paid minister of music in two churches in greater Los Angeles, and I also composed a number of published songs, one of which was included on a Billboard No. 1 album and Record of the Year. I mention all this to show that I have some working knowledge of contemporary music. I'm an insider who appreciates the genre, while not unaware of its limitations.

To understand what contemporary Christian music is, we need to look at just the music—not the lyrics—through a microscope. Although most people call it CCM or "worship music" or just "worship," it is first and foremost a subgenre of the American popular music that emerged in the mid-1960s and has been pervasive in society ever since. (For the sake of clarity, most musicians don't refer to blues, ragtime, jazz, pure country, swing, gospel, and other earlier popular styles as "pop," ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Standing on Shaky Ground: Pastor Tax Break Threat Lessens
Ruling means threat to pastor tax break may have lost its legs.
RecommendedThe Secret Religion of the Slaves
Subscriber Access Only The Secret Religion of the Slaves
They often risked floggings to worship God.
TrendingSpeak Truth to Trump
Speak Truth to Trump
Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump's blatant immorality.
Editor's PickThe Best Ways to Help the Poor
The Best Ways to Help the Poor
A new book, building on three classics, fills out the picture.
Christianity Today
A Variety of Religious Composition
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.