Beloved churchgoers will know the beauty of gospel music sung on the night of Christmas Eve.
Most of us who have been to church will remember the hours of practice needed to learn the sacred songs of the gospel for every performance. Even some adults cherish these memories and grow up to make gospel music a part of themselves.
Having said that, even after being in a gospel choir, many people don't know about the origin and importance of singing traditional hymns. So, we thought of giving you a short introduction to the traditional gospel music that's currently heard worldwide. Apart from Christians, the history of gospel music can be a delightful treat for those who have been fascinated with tunes from all around the world.
Therefore, keep reading if you are keen to learn more gospel music facts.
You can also read about 1950s music facts and 1960s music facts here on Kidadl!
Who created gospel music?
There is no set creator of gospel music, but some believe it to have originated from the singing of psalms in Scottish Gaelic performed by the Scottish Hebrides, who were Presbyterians.
There is no specific answer to the question of who created gospel music, as it can be traced back to the 17th century. The word 'gospel' means good news and mainly stands for spreading Jesus' teachings. In the beginning, gospel music was a way to spread the teachings of Christianity to people through sacred songs. Other than religious and ceremonial significance, gospel music is a form of Christian music often used for entertainment. Some believe that gospel music arose when literacy wasn't common, so the songs' repetitive patterns helped people remember the tunes and words.
In the 17th century, some English authors like John Newton and Augustus Toplady, who were members of the Anglican church, were the first to pen down the lyrics for gospel hymns. The first actual mention of the tradition may have been through the publication of Gospel Songs, a book released by Philip Bliss in 1874. During the 1920s, the introduction of radio boosted the popularity of gospel music, and one of the crucial proponents of this musical form, James D. Vaughan, used the medium extensively to spread gospel music. He even introduced traveling quartets to make them a form of popular music.
Popular Songs From The Gospel Music
When it comes to any form of music, some songs have taken over the world. In gospel music, one of the top hits has to be 'The Lord's Prayer' sung by Dinah Washington, recorded during the 1950s.
Other hits include 'There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood' by Aretha Franklin, 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands' by Mahalia Jackson, 'Sinnerman' by Nina Simone, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus' by Ella Fitzgerald, 'Give Me That Old Time Religion' by Etta James, 'Blessed & Highly Favored' by The Clark Sisters, and 'His Eye Is On the Sparrow' by Whitney Houston. Among the modern artists, there have been many artists that have been singing gospel hymns. 'But, Take My Hand, Precious Lord' by Beyoncé has been quite popular among people.
In general, over the years, some of the popular songs in gospel music have been 'Amazing Grace,' 'At Calvary,' 'At The Cross,' 'Because He Lives,' 'Behold The Lamb,' 'Blessed Assurance,' 'Can He, Could He, Would He, Did He?', 'Daddy Sang Bass,' 'The Day He Wore My Crown,' 'Do Lord,' 'The Family Of God', and 'Fill My Cup, Lord', among others. You can easily find the lyrics to these gospel songs and start practicing maybe for your church choir.
Who is called the father of gospel music?
Thomas A. Dorsey is regarded as the father of gospel music. He changed the traditions in the 1930s through the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois, by including the usual Gospel songs with the tunes of blues.
When it comes to the contemporary form of gospel music, he has had a significant role in bringing it to the forefront. He even established a publishing house solely based on gospel music. The year 1930 is said to have been particularly important, as it was the time when the National Baptist Convention publicized gospel music and brought it to the forefront. Dorsey also played an essential role in setting the careers of many gospel singers.
A popular gospel artist like Mahalia Jackson rose in popularity because of him. Dorsey penned over 3000 songs, among which one-third were gospel. Some of his popular songs include 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' and 'Peace in the Valley.' He was also the co-founder of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, dedicated to training early gospel musicians. He was also a former jazz pianist and a jazz composer but later mainly composed hymns for gospel songs.
What is the difference between gospel and spiritual music?
Even though gospel music is pretty popular among the African American community, spirituals are said to be Christian music that came into being from the black slaves.
The essence of spirituals is said to be in the situation of bondage that the African American community faced when slavery existed. In comparison, the roots of the gospel can be traced back to the European areas, which were mainly dominated by white Christians.
Later, the gospels were adopted by African-American churches, and black gospel music was created. Rather than just being teachings of Jesus, spirituals often embody work songs, sing songs, and plantation songs. Many believe that the spirituals were a huge influence on the formation of gospel blues. The spirituals are seen as an oral tradition passed on from one slave to another.
What are the five gospels?
Before we tell you about the five gospels, let's know a bit about them. The gospels are the teachings of Jesus that his disciples wrote down.
The gospels are taken to be a part of early Christian writings that narrated the life and teachings of Jesus. According to the New Testament, there are only four canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. However, some people think that there are more teachings that are categorized under New Testament Apocrypha or pseudepigrapha. Some popular Apocrypha included the Gnostic gospels and even the lost gospels. Many gospels have been written during modern Christianity, mainly in the 19th and 20th centuries.
A book published in Germany, 'The Fifth Gospel,' in 1993 by Philipp Vandenberg got quite a bit of traction when the popular novelist Dan Brown mentioned it in his book, 'The Da Vinci Code.' The German book mainly dealt with the connection of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Moreover, there has always been a constant debate about the most accurate gospel. Even though some believed Mark to be the earliest and the most accurate of gospels, others deny that and say that the author of Mark wasn't looking forward to writing history.
Did You Know?
Here are some of the facts to know about gospel music.
Among the three most popular facts of gospel music, it's important to know that gospel music is of much importance in African American churches. Along with folk songs and spirituals, gospel music played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. People would sing gospel songs amidst long protests to keep up their morale. On top of that, Martin Luther King Jr. himself was a big proponent of gospel music. He was friends with Mahalia Jackson, also known as the 'Queen of Gospel Music,' and she sang the songs to him on the telephone to uplift his mood. Her words, 'Tell them about the dream!' influenced Martin Luther to give his iconic speech. Hence, gospel music is important not only for the love of God but also for the freedom of African Americans in the USA.
Like other musical styles, the gospel is also divided into several subgenres based on different times. Black gospel is the most common, including the gospel blues, traditional gospel, and contemporary gospel. These genres are most likely to be performed by a church choir. The traditional gospel is said to have been influenced by the great migration from the Southeastern United States. The 70s and 80s era saw the rise of the urban contemporary gospel. This was the time when the gospel entered secular music. Hence, the gospel songs that you hear right now may not always be attached to Christianity but might be treated like secular music, especially in the spirit of Christmas.
Another subdivision was seen in the form of the British black gospel. Even though the usual gospel choir or music was more of an American phenomenon, it reached the UK, especially among the African diaspora, and was called UK gospel. Another major subgenre is Southern gospel music, similar to Christian country music. Compared to the other categories, this one remains predominantly popular among white people. It is often shortened to country music, and it remains popular to date through singers like Dolly Parton, Charlie Daniels, Larry Gatlin, and Barbara Mandrell. Apart from being known as church music, country music is also famous for being performed in country fairs. Interestingly, among young African Americans and hip hop artists, the subgenre of gospel rap has emerged, mainly performed by Christian artists.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 15 Amazing Gospel Music Facts That Will Fascinate You! then why not take a look at 1950s music facts or 1955 facts?
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