The Historical Development of the Modern Worship Song

Travis Doucette, Liberty University

Document Type Article


For centuries, followers of Christ have used music as a channel of communicating their love and adoration towards their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, the use of music with God’s people is encouraged throughout the pages of Scripture. In the Old Testament, the psalmist writes, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Throughout Christian history, wherever there has been renewal, revival and restoration, fresh songs of praise and worship have followed and in many cases serve as cultural and historical indicators of what the Lord was doing in His people at that particular time in history. As William Reynolds observed, “Christian song is never static, never quite the same from one generation to another. When viewed from two or three decades the changes appear rather small. However, a backward look of fifty years reveals more distinct differences, and these differences become more sharply defined over a passing century”. This quote by Dr. William J. Reynolds provides a platform for a study of the distinct differences of music in the church during the past century.