According to Yale University music professor Willie Ruff, the singing of psalms in Gaelic by Presbyterians of the Scottish Hebrides evolved from “lining out”—where one person sang a solo and others followed—into the call and response of gospel music of the American South. Another theory notes foundations in the works of Dr. Isaac Watts and others.
Moreover, the genre arose during a time when literacy was not a guarantee, utilizing a great deal of repetition (which, unlike more traditional hymns, allowed those who could not read the opportunity to participate).
Perhaps the most famous gospel-based hymns were composed in the 1760s and 1770s by English writers John Newton (“Amazing Grace”) and Augustus Toplady (“Rock of Ages”), members of the Anglican Church. Starting out as lyrics only, it took decades for standardized tunes to be added to them. Although not directly connected with African-American gospel music, they were adopted by African-Americans as wellwell as white Americans, and Newton’s connection with the abolition movement provided cross-fertilization.
Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term “gospel song” probably appeared in 1874.
The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.
Black gospel, by far the most well-known variant, emerged out of the African-American music tradition and has evolved in various ways over the years, continuing to form the basis of Black church worship even today. It has) has also come to be used in churches of various other cultural traditions (especially within Pentecostalism) and, via the gospel choir phenomenon spearheaded by Thomas Dorsey, has become a form of musical devotion worldwide.
Southern gospel used all male, tenor-lead-baritone-bass quartet make-up. Progressive Southern gospel is an American music genre that has grown out of Southern gospel overover the past couple of decades. Christian country music, sometimes referred to as country gospel music, is a subgenre of gospel music with a country flair. It peaked in popularity in the mid-1990s. Bluegrass gospel music is rooted in American mountain music. Celtic gospel music infuses gospel music with a Celtic flair, and is quite popular in countries such as Ireland. British black gospel refers to Gospel music of the African diaspora produced in the UK.
The first published use of the term “Gospel song” probably appeared in 1874 when Philip Bliss released a songbook entitled Gospel Songs. A Choice Collection of Hymns and Tunes. It was used to describe a new style of church music, songs that were easy to grasp and more easily singable than the traditional church hymns, which came out of the mass revival movement starting with Dwight L. Moody, whose musician was Ira D. Sankey, as well as the Holiness-Pentecostal movement. Prior to the meeting of Moody and Sankey in 1870, there was an American rural/frontier history of revival and camp meeting songs, but the gospel hymn was of a different character, and it served the needs of mass revivals in the great cities.
The revival movement employed popular singers and song leaders, the most famous of themthem being Ira D. Sankey. The original “gospel” songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. As an extension to his initial publication Gospel Songs, Philip Bliss, in collaboration with Ira D. Sankey issued no’s. 1 to 6 of Gospel Hymns in 1875. Sankey and Bliss’s collection can be found in many libraries today.
The popularity of revival singers and the openness of rural churches to this type of music (in spite of its initial use in city revivals) led to the late 19th and early 20th century establishment of gospel music publishing houses such as those of Homer Rodeheaver, E. O. Excell, Charlie Tillman, and Charles Tindley. These publishers were in the market for large quantities of new music, providing an outlet for the creative work of many songwriters and composers.
The advent of Radio in the 1920s greatly increased The audience for gospel music, And James D. Vaughan Used radio as an integral Part of his business model, which also included traveling quartets To publicize gospel music books He published several times A year. Virgil O. Stamps and Jesse R. Baxter studied Vaughan’s business model and by the late 1920s Were running heavy competition For Vaughan. The 1920s Also saw The marketing Of gospel Records by groups Such as The Carter Family .
Some proponents Of “standard” Hymns generally dislike gospel Music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, with historical Distance , there Says a greater acceptance Of Such gospel songs Into official denominational hymnals.