Archive for the ‘Gospel Music’ Category

Gospel Music: Evangelists and their Song Leaders

August 11th, 2014 No comments

This is a continuation of last week’s blog: “What is Gospel Music?”  

The origin and development of Gospel music goes hand in hand with the history of evangelism in the United States.  Dwight L. Moody, an evangelist of the mid-to-late 1800s, was the primary “architect” of a new kind of church music that has become what we now call Gospel Music.  Moody’s song leader and soloist, Ira D. Sankey, was the “craftsman” who composed the music that fulfilled the architect’s vision.  

The initial thrust of Colonial America’s “Great Awakening” (1730-1740s) focused on “reviving” the religious fervor of church members, and was immediately followed by the trail of itinerate evangelists who went from town to town pitching their tents and preaching “hellfire and damnation” to the unchurched.  It was then that Dwight Moody came to the fore with a new approach to evangelism that was utilized later by evangelist Billy Sunday and refined to its greatest use by Billy Graham. Read more…

What is Gospel Music?

August 3rd, 2014 2 comments

Recently I was asked, “What is Gospel music?”  That would have been very easy to answer prior to the mid-1800s.  Prior to then, the term “Gospel music” was not used.  Instead, people referred to “Gospel hymns”—stately, dignified religious songs with definite references to the Gospel message of the New Testament.  One of the earliest of these Gospel hymns goes back to 1529, when Martin Luther wrote the words and composed the music of the stately and much sung A Mighty Fortress is our God.  The theme of the hymn is “relying on Jesus Christ to overcome the Devil,” with specific references to Psalm 46, Galatians 5:22, and Philippians 2:9-10.  This is not, however, the kind of music we think of today as Gospel music.

In the mid-1800s two men developed a new kind of religious music that was to become today’s Gospel music.  The two men were famed evangelist Dwight L. Moody and his music director and soloist, Ira D. Sankey, known as the “Sweet Singer.” Read more…