View Book

Open Up the Doors

ID: 1578 - View Book Page - Edit In OJS

Within the Judaeo-Christian tradition -with few exceptions- music has always been central to the performance of sacred rites. The musical setting of liturgy has its roots in the earliest customs of the church and the practice has continued to evolve up to the present day. As the contemporary church in many Western societies grapples with the divisive issues of gay clergy or female ordination, just as divisive a schism appears to be in progress in the world of church music. On the traditional side are those that keep the ancient choral traditions alive. They face the new, intense informality of the evangelical wing who embrace a plainer more approachable music but who are not themselves without controversy, owing to the struggle between the secular forces from which their new forms of church music derive and the messages they wish to propagate and who are also, it often seems, drawn to fundamentalist and reactionary politics.

This book surveys the music used in churches around the world today in the context of the history of western congregational song and concludes that music, like other cultural elements of contemporary Christianity, has been widely secularized. This secularization is a global phenomenon fed by the explosive growth of the contemporary church music industry (worth more than $900 million in annual sales) which has seen the large secular music companies acquiring independent labels, in many cases, to the distress of the faithful. By analyzing the tensions and controversies that are fuelling this crisis and leading to the breakdown of traditions that have been the backbone Christian tradition for centuries, the book questions whether the theoretical and practical problems aroused by this crisis can ever be surmounted.

Published: Dec 1, 2006


Section Chapter Authors
Acknowledgements Mark Evans
Introduction Mark Evans
Contextualising Contemporary Congregational Music Mark Evans
‘Nothing New Under the Sun’: Learning from History Mark Evans
Ending the Corporate Worship Wars Mark Evans
Resistance or Accommodation: The ‘World’ of Quality Mark Evans
The Rise and Rise of Pentecostal Music: History, Hillsong and Star Texts Mark Evans
Theomusicological Frameworks for Congregational Song Analysis Mark Evans
Corporate Worship Gets Personal Mark Evans
Conclusion: ‘When the Music Fades’ Mark Evans
Appendix: Song Classication and Analysis Mark Evans
Notes Mark Evans
Bibliography Mark Evans
Index to Bible References Mark Evans
Subject Index
Subject Index Mark Evans


In this important book, Evans has raised the level of conversation about worship music far above the too typical Us vs. Them.
Paul Jacobson, Reviews in Religion and Theology

Theologically literate evangelical musicians who want to think through why we sing what we sing in church are going to find this a useful publication to consult. And as the number of books in the ‘useful’ category are vanishingly small, it is worth knowing about this one!
Gordon Cheng, The Sola Panel

Open Up the Doors has the merit of making sense of a phenomenon that traditionalists either dislike or dismiss, or both. The book’s value lies its detailed analysis of a phenomenon that seems superficial on initial acquaintance, but is nonetheless important as part of con-temporary Christian worship.
Fieldwork in Religion