Religious Music

Religious music (also sacred music) is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence. Ritual music is music, sacred or not, performed or composed for or as ritual.

The religious music that is commonly considered Western had its beginnings in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, as did Western religions themselves. As that music developed over the centuries, it shaped and was shaped by a variety of musical cultures, most notably those of Europe and North America. Primarily Jewish or Christian in character, Western religious music has also been influenced at times by Islamic practices.

Different groups of Jews and Christians have been identified in the West partly by the kinds of music they have cultivated or prohibited. Much music, however, has crossed denominational and religious lines. Furthermore secular and sacred styles have been mutually influential, even if sometimes controversially so. Since the late eighteenth century Western music of a religious or spiritual nature has often appeared in a relatively secular guise.

When words fail Music speaks

When words fail
Music speaks

Christian music

Main articles: Church music, Christian music, and Gospel Music

Christian music is music that has been written to express either personal or a communal belief regarding Christian life and faith. Common themes of Christian music include praise, worship, penitence, and lament, and its forms vary widely across the world.

Organ Music Church Church Service Tube Organ Pipe


According to some scholars, the earliest music in the Christian Church came from Jewish worship music, with some additional Syriac influence. It is believed that this music lay somewhere between singing and speaking, or speaking with an understood ritual cadence. However, there is another opinion that the roots of early Christian music come from the early ascetic monastic orders.

Church music is music written for performance in church, or any musical setting of ecclesiastical liturgy, or music set to words expressing propositions of a sacred nature, such as a hymn.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace.

Islamic Music

Main article: Islamic music

Islamic “songs” come in the form of prayers (In Arabic, prayer is Salah) that occur 5 times a day. These prayers are conducted by facing Mecca and having both knees to the ground bowing and reciting these prayers and usually are recitations of the Islamic Holy word the Quran. These prayers occur of the day and connect the Muslim people through a series of melodic prayers that often become amplified through the city. In Islam the implication of prayer and in this case the Salah is for ritual since it is believed to be the direct word of God that shall be performed as a collective, as well as individually.

History of Islam Prayer

“What shall I say of their prayer? For they pray with such concentration and devotion that I was astonished when I was able to see it personally and observe it with my own eyes.” (Riccold De Monte in the year 1228).

The origin of the art of prayer in all Abrahamic religions is to glorify God and the same goes for Islam. The Al Salat is the most widely used word to mean institutionalized prayer and is one of the oldest forms of prayer in Islam. Islamic prayer, traditions, and ideals had influence from these Abrahamic religions. The time of origination of Salah came from the Muslim prophet Muhammad (the Messenger of God) in a cave as he began to worship Allah (God). It is believed that through this act of worship Mohammad interacted with the Abrahamic prophet Moses. Now these “prayers” come in the form of recitations of the Quran and poems written by prophets of the faith.

The Spread of Islamic Prayer

Besides the spread of Islam through Arabia by prophets it spread through trade routes like the Silk Road and through conflict of war. Through the Silk road traders and members of the early Muslim faith were able to go to countries such as China and create mosques around 627 C. E. As men from the Middle East came to China they would get married to these Asian women, which led to a spreading of the faith and traditions of Islam in multiplicities. The Crusades in the 9th and 10th century encouraged the spread of Islam through the invasions of Latin Christian soldiers and Muslim soldiers into each other’s land. The whole conflict began on the premises of a Holy Land and which group of people owned these lands that led to these foes invading their respective lands. As the religion itself spread so did its implications of ritual, such as prayer.

Jewish music

Main article: Jewish music

The earliest synagogal music was based on the same system as that in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Talmud, Joshua ben Hananiah, who had served in the sanctuary Levitical choir, told how the choristers went to the synagogue from the orchestra by the altar (Talmud, Suk. 53a), and so participated in both services.

Sikh music

Main article: Sikh music

Sikh music or Shabad kirtan is Kirtan-style singing of hymns or Shabad from the Guru Granth Sahib, the central text of Sikhism.

It began in the late 16th century as the musical expression of mystical poetry, accompanied by a musical instrument rabab, by Bhai Mardana an early follower of Guru Nanak –the founder of Sikhism. Following Nanak, all the Sikh gurus sang in the then-prevalent classical and folk music styles, accompanied by stringed and percussion instruments. The style was where the text was of prime significance and the music played a supporting, albeit important, role. The Gurus specified the raag for each hymn in the Sikh sacred scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.

Hindu music

Main article: Hindu music

Bell Brass Hindu Temple Sound Ring Metal Golden

Bell in Hindu Music

Hindu music is music created for or influenced by Hinduism. It includes Indian classical music, KirtanBhajan and other musical genres. Raagas are a common form of Hindu music in classical India.

The most common Hindu bhajan in North India is “Om Jai Jagdish Hare.” The names of Gods are religiously chanted, often including Vishnu and his incarnations, Shiva and the Goddess (Parvati, Shakti, Vaishnodevi).

Neopagan music

Main article: Shamanic Music and Neopagan music

Neopagan music is music created for or influenced by modern Paganism. It has appeared in many styles and genres, including folk music, classical music, singer-songwriter, post-punk, heavy metal and ambient music.

Rastafarian music

Main article: Rastafarian music

Rastafari music developed at reasoning sessions, where drumming, chanting, and dancing are all present. Rasta music is performed to praise and commune with Jah. In performing it, Rastas also reaffirm their rejection of Babylon. Rastas believe that their music has healing properties, with the ability to cure colds, fevers, and headaches. Many of these songs are sung to the tune of older Christian hymns, but others are original Rasta creations.

Shintō music

Main article: Shintō music

Shinto music is the ceremonial and festive music of Shinto (神道), the native religion of Japan. Its origin myth is the erotic dance of Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto which lured Amaterasu from her cave.

Buddhist music

Main articles: Meditation music and Buddhist music

Buddhist music is music for Buddhist ceremony or meditation.

Zoroastrian music

Main article: Zoroastrian music

Zoroastrian music is a genre of music that accompanies Zoroastrian traditions and rites.

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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