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The Definitive Guide to Worship Music Styles and Genres

What exactly is worship music? It’s difficult to define, but worship music can be defined as songs and hymns that give praise and honor to God. This article focuses on western worship music, and primarily the Judeo-Christian interpretations. Worship music has been an integral part of church services and other religious gatherings since ancient times and many styles and genres have come and gone over the years. Each style and genre of worship music brings something different to the service; it’s important to understand them all in order to ensure your service stays relevant and up-to-date with what your congregation wants.

When you think of worship music, what comes to mind? Chances are that if you’re in a traditional church, it’s praise music. After all, most churches have incorporated praise music into their worship services for decades. The truth is that there are several different kinds of worship styles or genres. Understanding these different styles can help you choose songs that are most appropriate for your congregation. Read on for information about each style so you can use them with confidence when planning your next service!

What is Traditional Worship Music?

Traditional worship music is intended for traditional church services. The types of churches that typically use traditional worship music are Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican (Episcopal), United Church of Christ (UCC), etc. Traditional worship music usually focuses on congregational singing. It often features slower music (often hymns) with little or no accompaniment besides vocal harmony if any at all.

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When a church uses traditional worship music, they typically have a choir, organist, or band led by a worship leader who sings songs from a standard hymnal. In most cases, services are more formal than contemporary ones with attendees seated on pews throughout most of the service, and following a predictable set structure. Traditional worship music is excellent for churches that have roots in traditional denominations or have members that prefer singing from hymnals.

What are the Different Kinds of Traditional Hymns?

When people think of traditional hymns, they often think of Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art. These are both great songs, but there are many other types of traditional hymns. Many churches today still use them in their worship services; for example, Roman Catholic services often use traditional Roman chants in Masses. And many contemporary Christian churches have a unique sound thanks to unique takes on traditional hymns.

But what makes a hymn traditional? Where did they come from?

The first type of traditional hymns are just simply called Traditional Hymns. Traditional hymns are essentially religious songs written before 1950. These songs were born out of early Protestant churches in Europe who sought to create hymns for their worship services that could be sung without accompaniment.

Victorian Hymns or British Traditional Hymns make up another sub-genre of traditional hymns, which were popular around 1900—roughly around when many other more secular genres (like ragtime) were taking off. These songs tend to be waltzes, love songs or lullabies like Softly Now The Light Of Day or I Was Glad. Many Victorian hymns can be found in collections like Voices United or The Methodist Manual, and some churches still use these classic hymns in their worship services today.

Many hymns are based on old chants or spiritual melodies written in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, while their tunes are traditional, many of these hymns may have lyrics that were written in more modern times. These are Liturgical Hymns, which come from a variety of faiths (usually Christian) and were written for specific religious services and rituals like Masses or other ceremonies. They can be seen as a combination of Traditional Hymns, Chants, and Carols since they often have an ancient tune but contemporary lyrics. In fact, many liturgical hymns incorporate both Eastern Orthodox musical modes as well as European ones. Some popular examples include The Strife Is O'er or This Little Light Of Mine.

No matter the genre, traditional hymns and songs are commonly found in various collections of pre-selected worship music called hymnals, which can be both denominationally-focused, theme-based or completely non-denominational. Hymnals like Psalter Hymnal helped further popularize traditional church music around 1920, but after World War II, many church goers felt that these types of songs were stale and ineffective in an increasingly modern world.

What Is Contemporary Worship?

Another common form of worship music is Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). CCM has become very popular over time with its upbeat tempo and modern pop-like style. The lyrics for CCM tend to be more about life issues like love, identity in Christ, family struggles, etc. People who attend a contemporary worship service may have a personal relationship with Jesus or simply want a fun way to learn more about God through music. They may not have a desire to go deeper in their faith but they do want music that resonates with them and touches their hearts. This type of service works well for both on Sundays at church as well as midweek services/evangelism events because it's easy to sing along even if you don't know all of the words.

Are There Different Kinds of Contemporary Worship Music?

Worship music has changed a lot in recent years. While most people think of contemporary Christian music when they hear worship music, worship is actually more than just contemporary Christian music. Contemporary worship encompasses many different genres of music—so many, in fact, that it can be hard to keep track of them all. Many churches choose one or two worship styles for their services but even so, there are still various types of worship music that you might want to include on occasion. Let's take a look at some popular genres within contemporary Christian worship music.

Contemporary Christian music covers a wide range of genres, including indie, hip-hop, electronic, alternative rock, acoustic rock/folk, pop rock/pop-punk. The common denominator among them is that they're all very upbeat and easy to listen to. They're particularly effective for services with younger audiences or children's ministries, where you want something that's easy on young ears but still sends a positive message about God or Jesus Christ. The most famous contemporary Christian artist is Hillsong United—but MercyMe, Elevation Worship, Passion Band, Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin are also big names in CCM today. These artists typically perform songs with lyrics derived from Scripture or a relevant source but sometimes their music is interpreted through creative license instead of being literally biblical.

How do I Use Each Style Effectively?

Each genre has different characteristics that make it unique—and each one is designed to help bring worshipers into God's presence. Some songs are slow and soft; others are fast and intense. When you're selecting songs for your services, choose ones that will engage your congregation in a way that corresponds with your church's overall mission statement. For example: If you want to lead people in worship in order to lift up Jesus in prayer, then gospel music would be more appropriate than house music.

Contemporary hymns seek to incorporate many of these musical styles but with updated lyrics. They can be particularly useful for younger audiences who may not appreciate traditional music, but there are plenty of churches that still use traditional hymns in their worship services. And you don't have to throw out older favorites when introducing your churchgoers to more contemporary forms of worship music; it's all about finding a balance between old and new. It's also important to recognize that there are some groups—like children or youth—who may respond better than others, so keeping that in mind is helpful when you're selecting songs for your church service.

Finally, you need to consider your church's size when choosing a style of music. Bigger churches will likely have a larger budget for musical equipment and more people on hand who can lead worship. But no matter how big or small your congregation is, there's a style of music that will engage its members in a meaningful way. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all of these different options, start with what feels right to you or try out one new style at a time until you find something that works for your congregation as a whole.