What is Praise and Worship Music
Praise and worship music (Christian) is music that has been written during the last two thousand years to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life and faith. Common themes of Christian music include praise, worship, repentance, and its forms vary widely across the world.
Like other forms of praise and worship 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 artistic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace.
The most prevalent uses of Christian music are at religious or worship services, most frequently at church buildings on a Sunday morning, but they may also be held on other days and nights of the week or at other venues. Most Christian music involves singing, whether by the whole congregation (assembly) or by a choir, or worship band.
History of Praise and Worship Music
The Christian church of the first two centuries sought to avoid any mixing of pagan musical practices with their own religious experiences. Clement, for instance, forbade the singing of psalms and the reading of Scriptures in profane meetings so that Christians would not be confused with the “wandering minstrels, singers and tellers of tales of high adventure, who perform their art for a mouthful of bread.” All instruments were banned from Christian worship due to their association with pagan ceremonies and the low reputation of instrumental musicians. Although there are numerous references in the Old Testament to instrumental accompaniment in Jewish worship, by the end of the first century even the Jews no longer featured instruments in their liturgy. Musical instruments were absent from the synagogues since the Exile, and with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD instruments disappeared from Jewish liturgy altogether.
Unlike the mystery cults that believed in the power of musical incantations, the early church Fathers affirmed that the word (logos) held primacy over the music. The early church Fathers often admonished musicians to keep the words audible and to avoid excessive musical elaboration. Solo songs and unison chants were preferred features of musical worship in that day. Writings by Basil indicate that men, women, and children all participated in singing. The texts for the songs were based upon Old Testament scriptures (principally psalms) or drawn from Christian doctrine found in writings comprising the New Testament.