chapter  8
16 Pages

(Hillsong) United Through Music: Praise and Worship Music and the Evangelical ‘Imagined Community’

In the world of Praise and Worship music,1 songs move among churches in a steady stream of new songs springing from various songwriters’ inspiration and popular favourites. Rooted in the Jesus People Movement of the 1960s and 70s, the popular music style of Praise and Worship music (hereafter, ‘P&W’) makes it stand apart from organ-led traditional church music.2 Yet because it stylistically ‘imitates’ different popular music genres and thus adapts to changes in style and taste of contemporary culture, its ‘sound’ is not fixed. Originally, the music was inspired by folksongs, producing the simple but catchy ‘Praise choruses’ as published by Maranatha! or Vineyard from the 1970s onward. The most recent compositions in P&W, however, closely follow the sound and timbre of popular bands like Coldplay and U2. Indeed, it seems that the only common denominator for P&W is biblically inspired content.3