Praise & Worship Music You live in a body. You function in your mind. You live in your spirit. Crush a man's spirit and no matter how healthy he is physically, he can decline to the point of death. Any doctor can tell you a story of someone who was healthy enough to live, but just gave up. There are many ways to stimulate the physical body. There are many ways to stimulate the mind - the mental part of mankind. Even so there are many ways to stimulate the spirit. One of the best is Praise and Worship Music. Worship (when used as a noun) is generally defined as ‘paying reverence, honor, or homage,’ traditionally to a divine being in a religious setting; however, less conventional applications often include commentary on those who lavish praise upon pop stars, tout the benefits of organically grown produce, revere their political leaders, or display a fanatical devotion to corporations who produce powerful laptop computers. These unconventional examples are accurate enough by the broadest and general definition, but the unifying thread is the concept of intentionally dedicating a portion of time to focus upon and revere a beloved person, object, or subject. With this theme in mind, for the sake of this article, the emphasis will be placed on the spiritual connotation; specifically, the act of worship as experienced in a corporate church setting. The most commonly referenced term for worship in the Bible is drawn from the Hebrew word ‘Abad’ which translates as ‘to abide’. This specific terminology implies the act of bringing people into an atmosphere where God can be experienced tangibly. While there are many methods employed individually and corporately to achieve this goal, in the modern church, the most frequently encountered - and arguably the most effective - is music. Music in the Bible The variety of worship encountered in today’s Christian church has its most obvious roots in the Biblical book of Psalms, a collection of literally hundreds of poems, lyrics, and artistic petitions penned by David, the king of Israel, which extolled the greatness of God, related his personal spiritual experiences, and even aired his grievances with the Almighty. These writings were relevant, real-time reflections of how David perceived God and His relationship to the people of the nation of Israel in this time period. Many of these works contain annotations relating to tempo, volume, intensity, and often call for specific instrumentation. The most recognizable of these instructions is the frequent use of ‘selah’, which refers to a dramatic pause or accent in a musical composition. Other passages are also prefaced by the phrase “To The Chief Musician” with instrumental specifications such as “with flutes” or “on stringed instruments” or reference other compositions by which the Psalm should be accompanied, such as “to the tune of ‘The Deer of the Dawn.’” David extended invitations to the most skilled musicians of his day, drawing them into the temple of Jerusalem to create the ‘joyful noise’ for which the Israel of David’s time became known. These worship sessions often included dancers, and David himself was known to participate, often becoming the most fervent dancer among them. Church Music Present day worship follows David’s model in many respects. Nearly every organized church meeting includes a musical portion of the service featuring songs with lyrical content directed toward God which highlight His attributes, and express how people can relate to Him through those characteristics. During contemporary sessions, people sing along with the song leader and/or band, raise their hands, or dance, all with the intention of directing and focusing their attention upon God. Most bands of this variety are comprised of local musicians who are eager to lend their talents to their church’s worship services, and many church groups draw from a pool of the most talented musicians in their city. These individuals often consider their participation to be an offering of worship in and of itself. The musical styles of these services encompass as many genres and instrumentations as any secular music heard on modern radio, but with a focus on God rather than serving purely as entertainment. While many churches employ a worship leader who will rely on the songwriting of individuals or organizations outside of their local congregation, original music composed by in-house songwriters is more and more the norm. In many instances, entire church movements have been built around the original musical material composed by their band or worship leader. The songs produced by these teams often become the trademark by which the larger church organizations are known. These churches are widely recognized for drawing some of the most technically proficient and creatively dedicated musicians in the world, who, just as in David’s time, desire to offer their talent for the purpose of drawing attention to God rather than themselves. The Influence of Hillsong One such example is Hillsong Music, produced by Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, which has added such universally recognized songs as Shout To The Lord to the ‘modern worship’ lexicon, and made Darlene Zschech a household name among Christians worldwide. Other such examples are the band ‘Atmospheres’, produced by C3 Church in Asheville, North Carolina, which features music by the internationally acclaimed Steve Deal; and Jesus Culture, a youth-oriented movement born from Bethel Church in Redding, California, which has produced popular music by songwriters Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala, and Melissa How. A great number of insightful study resources related to Christian Music are available through this website, as are recordings by hundreds of the top Worship Music artists mentioned in this article. I would highly encourage anyone interested in worship or its history to invest a measure of time and resources in exploring the variety of musical styles which have metamorphosed from the unifying desire of man to connect with and experience God in song, just as David did over two thousand years ago.