Thinking Out Loud

May 18, 2012

This History of Contemporary Christian Music

Most the “histories” you hear on Christian radio only involve material the production staff were able to source on CD, and of those, some are limited to items still available for purchase on collections, since record companies are actively involved in “helping” the radio guys create these specials.

My purpose at the YouTube collection I created for the SearchlightBooks YouTube account — our sponsor, so to speak — was to find things that nobody had posted on YouTube to date, or possibly any other video service, either…

The Mass for Peace was originally written in Italian in 1963, so if you think Jesus Music began with Larry Norman or the Calvary Chapel concerts around 1969 and following, forget it; the Catholic folk masses really got there first. This one got translated into English in 1967.

The Christian festival scene began with Explo ’72 in Dallas, but was refined by a series of different events in rural Pennsylvania, including Jesus ’75 and ’76 which took place on a diary farm in the western part of the state.  Regulars at this event were the group Hope of Glory, and this 1975 song took it’s cue from a Hallmark Cards advertisement, “When you care enough to send the very best.”

No history of CCM’s early years would be complete without mentioning The Archers. (No, you’re thinking of the Archies…) Tom, Steve and Janice Archers recorded this song later in the career for a concept album by Dony McGuire and Reba Rambo based on the Lord’s prayer.

Contemporary Christian radio took a different form back in the day. There were a few dedicated stations, but many organizations had to settle for purchasing block airtime on secular stations on the weekend, or providing free programming features for use during the week, or even public service announcements like this one. Long before there was Lifeline Productions, there was Chuck Blore Creative Services.

Some people say that today’s modern worship grew out of CCM, while others argue that with groups like New Zealand’s Scripture in Song, the two movements were set on a parallel track and modern worship simply overtook CCM and became the more dominant genre. Here’s an independent recording by Tom & Candy Green that is typical of things people were recording way back when.

We’ll do more of these, or you can visit the YouTube page and see more, but I need to warn ya, it’s an extremely eclectic collection. I have a couple of thousand albums I can access for this, and I’m willing to look at requests for songs not online, but the material has to be both (a) old and of historical interest, and (b) not on a label which may have renewed the copyright.

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