History of Music in Worship

MUSW231 • 3 Units

This course visits key moments in the history of Western Christian church music. The story of music in Christian worship services in the West begins with the evolution of Gregorian chant from Hebrew and other models, progresses through the development of music for more than one voice part in settings for the early Catholic Mass, and divides into the Reformation stream including Lutheran chorales, other Protestant metrical Psalm settings, and the emergence of loftier settings in the cantatas of J. S. Bach and the oratorios of G. F. Handel.

The narrative then continues onto the development of hymns, first without and then with specific tunes, then onto a lighter variety of gospel, revival and Sunday School songs. All the while, religious thinkers and musicians within the church (often the same people) continually examined their practice of music in worship and sought musical reforms and developments which they thought would bring more truth, spiritual edification, beauty and/or appropriate praise to God.