- Tambourine. According to W.K. McNeil, the author of Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, the tambourine is a very popular hand-held instrument that is often played by various members of a gospel choir.
- Organ. According to the North by South project, a study of African American history and migrations at Kenyon College, the organ, a piano-like keyboard that pushes compressed air through pipes to create sound, is a staple of gospel music.
- Piano. In addition to the organ, regular pianos are played to make gospel music. These instruments are often used to accompany the words of slow gospel songs, especially when it is a solo backed up by the choir.
- Drums. Drums provide the beat for churchgoers to clap to when listening to gospel music. Like other black music forms, gospel music has its roots in Africa, where drum beats are popular.
- 1920s and Radio
- Gospel as Influence
- The Evangelists
- Dwight L. Moody
- Billy Sunday
- Holy Conversion
Christian worship was changing throughout the South during the 1800s as new waves of white immigrants were flooding into urban and rural regions. Catholic and Protestant congregations were under pressure by new Pentecostal and fundamentalist groups. With each wave of immigration in the great melting pot that is the American Experiment, new traditions arrived and conflicted with existing traditions and local fashions. With each disagreement between factions came the insecurity that souls were being lost. Traveling Revival Meetings became popular. Some were pointedly denominational, some entirely non-denominational. The idea was to whip up the congregants into such a religious fervor that they would flock back to Christ and the church both in spirit and by financial proxy. Tithing was the norm and needed to be maintained and encouraged. To encourage a back-falling population required a high level of theatrics and startling entertainment. Music was a big part: the songs needed to be po...
Revival meetings, or “Gospel Crusades”, grew in popularity through the 1800s. They were Christian religious services held to inspire active members of a church body, to raise funds and to gain new converts. These meetings were predominantly arranged by American Protestant churches. They were also involved with missionary works conducting revivals in Africa and India. Revival meetings consist of several consecutive nights of services in a single location. They may be in an existing church or related meeting house unless more space was needed. If necessary, a secular assembly hall was rented to provide a comfortable setting for non-Christians. To reach a community where there are no churches or large public spaces, tents were used and occasionally still are. The length of meetings varied. They may last a week or more, especially in the Southern United States. 3 or 4 days is also normal; though some are still held, especially in Pentecostal groups, “according to Holy Spirit time”: unti...
The advent of radio in the 1920s increased the audience for Gospel Music. Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson was the 1st women to broadcast Gospel Music and a radio sermon in the early 1920s. Music publisher James D. Vaughan used radio as an integral part of his business model; which included traveling quartets to publicize the Gospel Music books he published several times a year. Virgil O. Stamps and Jesse R. Baxter studied Vaughan’s method of doing business and by the late 1920s were competing. The 1920s also saw the emergence of gospel records by groups including the Carter Family. The first person to introduce the ragtime influence to gospel accompaniment as well as to play the piano on a gospel recording was Ms. Arizona Dranes.
Gospel quartets developed an a cappella style in African-American music following the earlier success of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The 1930s saw the Fairfield Four, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Five Blind Boys, the Swan Silvertones, the Charioteers, and the Golden Gate Quartet. While racism divided the nation; these groups were best known in the African-American community, but some gained an appreciative audience among whites. There were many other relatively unknown black gospel musicians performing at the same time. Fisk Jubilee Singers During the 1930s, in Chicago, Thomas A. Dorsey (best known as author of: “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”), who had spent the 1920s writing secular music, turned full time to Gospel Music. He established a publishing house and is credited with inventing the black gospel style of piano music. Dorsey, son of a Baptist minister, learned piano from his mother. He gained an appreciation of the blues when he moved to Atlanta GA. Dorsey is credited with devel...
Following the 2nd World War, Gospel Music concerts became more elaborate. In 1950, black gospel was featured at Carnegie Hall when Joe Bostic produced the Negro Gospel and Religious Music Festival. He repeated it the next year with an expanded list of performing artists, and in 1959 moved to Madison Square Garden. Today, black gospel and white gospel are distinct genres, with distinct audiences. In white gospel, there is a large Gospel Music Association and a Gospel Music Hall of Fame, which includes a few black artists, such as Mahalia Jackson, but which ignores most black artists. In the black community, James Cleveland established the Gospel Music Workshop of America in 1969.
Towns along the Mississippi like Memphis TN, whose life blood flowed from commerce on the river, were flooded with these new musical and cultural influences. The Pentecostal churches swelled with Jazz and Blues infused Gospel music. The choirs filled with the enthusiastic communities and the local musicians contributed their talents on guitar, bass, and percussion. With the advent of electrical amplification, the instrumentation evolved to electric guitars and bass, drums, Hammond Organs and whatever other instruments were well played by willing parishioners. In rural communities, it was something for the young to do to stay out of trouble. Being a part of the church musical establishment was considered to be a grand and holy endeavor. Parents could be proud of their children’s participation and encouraged it. This was true common cause: where the whole community came together. The South was still deeply segregated but everyone could appreciate the musical contributions of all races...
The following represents a few of the many traveling Evangelists of the 19th and 20th century in America. There were others and there are still some today. These are outlined to help establish the feel or flavor of the times and their impact on the culture and music of the day.
Following the American rural/frontier history of revival and camp meeting songs, the urban mass revival movement started with evangelist Dwight L. Moody and the Holiness-Pentecostal movement. Moody met musician Ira D. Sankey in 1870 and collaborated to make changes to the form of the gospel hymn. They reshaped it to suit Moody’s vision of a more exciting music, better suited to the success of his revival meetings. They employed popular singers and song leaders who used songs by writers such as George F. Root, P. P. Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. The 1st published use of the term “Gospel” to describe this kind of music was in the 1870s. In 1874, P. P. Bliss edited a collection titled ‘Gospel Songs’, and in 1875 P. P. Bliss and Ira Sankey expanded their collection by issuing ‘Gospel Hymns, No’s. 1 to 6’. Sankey is quoted as saying: “Before I sing I must feel”. Dwight L. Moody Following successes of revivals in England, Moody brought his methods to A...
William Ashley “Billy Sunday” Sonntag was a popular outfielder in the National Baseball League during the 1880s, who eventually became one of the most celebrated and influential American evangelists of the first 2 decades of the 20th century. Billy Sunday was born near Ames, Iowa as the son of German immigrants, who anglicized their last name to “Sunday” when they settled in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. His father died of disease 5 weeks after Billy’s birth. His mother: Mary Jane Sunday and her children moved in with her parents for a few years, and young Billy became close to his grandparents and especially his grandmother. Mary Jane Sunday later remarried, but her second husband soon deserted the family. When Billy Sunday was 10 years old, his impoverished mother sent him and an older brother to the Soldiers’ Orphans Home in Glenwood, Iowa, and later to the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Davenport, Iowa. At the orphanage, Sunday gained orderly habits, a decent primary education, a...
On a Sunday afternoon in Chicago during either the 1886 or 1887 baseball season, Sunday and several of his teammates were out on the town for their day off. They stopped to listen to a gospel preaching team from the Pacific Garden Mission on a street corner. Attracted by the hymns he had heard his mother sing, Sunday began attending services at the mission. A former society matron who worked there eventually convinced Sunday that he should become a Christian. He began attending the fashionable Jefferson Park Presbyterian Church which was convenient to both the ball park and his rented room. Although he socialized with his teammates and sometimes gambled, Sunday was not a heavy drinker. In his autobiography, he said, “I never drank much. I was never drunk but four times in my life. … I used to go to the saloons with the baseball players, and while they would drink highballs and gin fizzes and beer, I would take lemonade.” Following his conversion, Sunday denounced drinking, swearing,...
Instrumental Gospel consists of hymns, traditional gospel tunes, or CCM selections performed in easy, instrumental arrangements. Read More
- II. Instruments Do Not Fit New Testamenttruth.
- III. Instruments Do Not Fit New Testamentemphasis on understanding.
- I. Instruments in The Old Testament
- II. Instruments in Heaven.
- III. Using Our Talents For God
- IV. The Greek Words Psallo and Psalmos
- v. Instruments as An Aid to Singing
John 4:24 tells us to worship God "in spirit and in truth."1 Corinthians 14:15 says to sing "with the spirit and withthe understanding." Hence, musical praise in the NewTestament must meet three criteria: (1) truth, (2) understanding,and (3) spirit. Let us see how instrumental praisemeasures up. First, consider worshiping God in truth. People often defend a practice by saying "God nowheresaid notto do this." But when a practicecannot be found in God's word, is that practice right or wrong?Does God's silence about a practice give us consent to do it, ordoes it prohibit us from doing it? Consider the following teachings of God's word:
Instrumental praise does not fit New Testament truth. That isenough reason not to use it. But there are other reasons too.Consider the New Testament teaching about understandable worship(1 Cor. 14:15).
We are told that David used instruments in Old Testamentworship. David was a man after God's own heart, so surely Godwill be pleased if we use instruments like he did.
Some argue that harps are used in heaven to praise God -Revelation 5:8,9; 14:2,3; 15:2,3. No sin can enter heaven, andGod accepts instrumental praise there. Therefore, it is not sinfor us to use them to praise God. However:
We are told that playing an instrument is a God-given talent,just like singing. God expects us to use our talents to serve Him.Since God gave people the talent to play, He would surely bepleased if we used it to praise Him.
"Sing" in Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; James 5:13, and"make melody" in Eph. 5:19 are translated from theGreek PSALLO. "Psalm" in 1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19; andCol. 3:16 is translated from the Greek PSALMOS. Some Greekdictionaries (lexicons) say that these words can mean to sing tothe accompaniment of a harp. So some people argue that thisauthorizes instrumental music today.
We are told that instruments are authorized as aids to helppeople stay on tune and improve the singing. They are compared tosongbooks, pitch pipes, church buildings, pews, pulpits, waterfountains, lights, overhead projectors, carpets, etc. They maynot be expressly mentioned in the Bible, but they are authorizedbecause they help us do an authorized act.
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The style of gospel singing remains influential to this day, beyond Gospel music itself. Gospel groups began to emerge as popular performing and recording artists, often appearing in the form of 4 to 5 singers (usually with one leader and the others backing) sometimes with instrumental accompaniment.
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The New Law never endorses additional musical instruments, even though they were called for in the Old Law and readily available during the Roman Empire. Thus, we may use music and musical instruments in any capacity, except for weekly worship. I hope this helps the discussion.