Christian Music: What is Christian Music, Types and Importance

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 around the world.

Church music, hymnals, gospel and worship music are a part of Christian media, and also include contemporary Christian music which itself supports numerous Christian styles of music, including hip hop, rock, contemporary worship, and R&B-influenced gospel.


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.

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 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.

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


Types of Christian music


A chant is the iterative speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two main pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures, often including a great deal of repetition of musical subphrases, such as Great Responsories and Offertories of Gregorian chant.

Chant may be considered speech, music, or a heightened or stylized form of speech. In the later Middle Ages some religious chant evolved into song (forming one of the roots of later Western music). Mostly used in Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox churches.

Some examples of chants are:

  • Ambrosian chant
  • Anglican chant
  • Armenian chant
  • Celtic chant
  • Ethiopian chant
  • Galician chant
  • Gregorian chant
  • Kievan chant
  • Mozarabic chant
  • Old Roman chant
  • Syriac chant

Metrical Psalters

A metrical psalter is a kind of Bible translation: a book containing a metrical translation of all or part of the Book of Psalms in vernacular poetry, meant to be sung as hymns in a church. Some metrical psalters include melodies or even harmonisations.

The composition of metrical psalters was a large enterprise of the Protestant Reformation, especially in its Calvinist manifestation. Mostly used in reformed churches, and anabaptists.

Some examples of psalters are:

Genevan Psalter
German Psalter "des Königlichen Propheten David"
Dutch Psalter


A Reformation approach, the normative principle of worship, produced a burst of hymn writing and congregational singing. Martin Luther is notable not only as a reformer, but as the author of hymns including “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”), “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (“Praise be to You, Jesus Christ”), and many others.

Luther and his followers often used their hymns, or chorales, to teach tenets of the faith to worshipers. The first Protestant hymnal was published in Bohemia in 1532 by the Unitas Fratrum. Mostly used by Protestant churches, principally Lutheran, Methodist, and Hussite traditions, but in some areas also by Roman Catholic and Anabaptists.

Some examples of famous hymnals are:

•Ausbund, oldest Anabaptist hymnal
•Baptist Hymnal
•Kirchengesangbuch, the first hymnal in German speaking churches
•Hymnbooks of the Church of Scotland
•Jistebnice hymn book, Czech hymnal from around 1430.

Contemporary Christian music

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, Christian R&B, Christian electronic dance music 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.

In the 1980s and 1990s, contemporary Christian music played a significant role in Evangelical Christian worship. A great variety of musical styles has developed traditional praise.

Christian Music FAQ

What is the most listened to Christian song?

Billboard’s Most Popular Christian Songs

"In The House" by Crowder."
My God Is Still The Same" by Sanctus Real.
"Promised Land" by TobyMac.
"Weary Traveler" by Jordan St. Cyr.
"House of the Lord" by Phil Wickham.
"Stand in Faith" by Danny Gokey.
"On Our Way" by MercyMe.
"Heart of the Father" by Ryan Ellis.

Is Christian and Gospel music the same?

Gospel music is a traditional genre of Christian music, and a cornerstone of Christian media. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context.

What is the most popular Christian hymn?

1. Amazing Grace – John Newton, England (1779)

What is Christianity music called?

liturgical music, also called church music, music written for performance in a religious rite of worship. The term is most commonly associated with the Christian tradition.

What are the three types of music used in church?

1 Early Christian music.

2 Gregorian chant.

3 Mass.

4 Carols.

5 Christian hymnody.

6 Modern

What is the most beautiful hymn?

The Best Hymns Ever:

  1. Abide With Me
  2. Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed
  3. All Creatures Of Our God And King
  4. All Glory, Laud And Honor
  5. Amazing Grace
  6. America, The Beautiful
  7. And Can It Be That I Should Gain
  8. At Calvary

What is the easiest worship song to sing?

Easy Praise and Worship Songs for Beginners

  • Heart of Worship by Matt Redman.
  • Here I Am to Worship – Tim Hughes.
  • How Great Is Our God by Chris Tomlin
  • You Are Good by Kari Jobe

What is the oldest known hymn?

The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. It’s the oldest surviving melody and is over 3,400 years old. The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians’ goddess of the orchards Nikkal.

Did Jesus sing any songs?

We read that Jesus sang a hymn with the disciples at the conclusion of the Lord’s Supper. It was just before he set out to pray on the Mount of Olives. In their fellowship, Jesus lifted up his voice and sang a hymn, a customary finale to a Passover meal together.

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