The Christ in Prophecy Journal

The Revolution in Christian Music

The Revolution in Christian Music

Are you aware of the fact that a revolution occurred in Christian music in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s? And are you aware of the fact that it ultimately impacted churches all across America?

I want to introduce you to two of the people who were involved in that revolution. These are musicians who became pioneers of Contemporary Christian music.

I don’t know if you were around in the late 1960’s, but it was a very exciting time in the history of modern day Christianity. Shortly after the Six Day War in Israel in 1967, the Holy Spirit began to move mightily on the hearts of young people all across this nation, including young Jews in their teens and twenties. The result was a massive wave of evangelism that resulted in tens of thousands of young people giving their lives to Jesus. This mighty move of the Spirit came to be called the Jesus Movement. It ultimately impacted churches of all kinds all across America.

Worship music before that time was provided almost exclusively by pianos and organs. Suddenly, churches started introducing other instruments like guitars and (horror of all horrors) drums. Unfortunately, this led to church splits when some people dug in their heels and said, “You are going to introduce guitars over my dead body!”

Chuck Girard

One of the Christian leaders who saw the significance of the Jesus Movement and seized onto it at its early stages was Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel Churches in California. He began reaching out to the thousands of hippies who had migrated to California and started telling them that the greatest high in life was not drugs, but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They responded with enthusiasm, and he began holding huge baptismal services on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean.

Many of these young people had great musical talents, and they were eager to use those talents to praise the Lord. One of those persons was the featured musician at our 2016 Bible Conference. He is a living example of the amazing, and miraculous power of God to change lives. The person I am talking about is Chuck Girard, a legendary figure in Christian music. Chuck is a singer, songwriter, recording artist and worship leader. He was also one of the pioneers of Contemporary Christian music.

Chuck Girard

When Chuck Girard appeared on the scene in the late 1960’s, there were basically only two forms of Christian music. There were the Southern Gospel quartet groups like the Blackwood Brothers and there were individual singers like George Beverly Shea, who specialized in singing hymns.

Chuck was born in Los Angeles. He was raised in a legalistic denomination and had burned out on religion by the age of 15. That’s when he discovered rock and roll and decided to devote his life to it. In his teens, he formed a group called The Castells, which had two national top 20 hits.

This led to a successful career as a studio singer and musician, which included singing the lead vocals on The Hondells first two albums and their biggest hit, “Little Honda.”

In his early twenties, Chuck became disillusioned with life, and like so many of his generation, he began experimenting with drugs. This led to a five-year search for God through LSD, eastern religion, and a committed hippie lifestyle. His search ended in 1970 at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa where he found true spiritual reality through accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior.

His band members came along with him on this spiritual journey. Previously playing night clubs, preaching peace and love and LSD, they now had a new way to find God. They now had a new message, and with this change helped blaze the path for the beginnings of what would become known as the Jesus Movement and Contemporary Christian music. The group was called Love Song, and Chuck sang with them for three years before launching a solo career with the first album simply titled, “Chuck Girard.” It was this album that contained his most renowned song “Sometimes Alleluia.”

Joel Chernoff

While Chuck Girard and others like him who had come out of the Hippie Movement were creating new forms of Christian music in California, the same thing was happening in the central United States in Cincinnati, Ohio. Young hippie Jews were accepting Jesus, or Yeshua, as they called Him as their Messiah. One of those young Jews was Joel Chernoff, who was a very gifted songwriter and singer. He and a Jewish friend of his formed a group called Lamb, and Joel began to create a whole new genre of music called Messianic.

I had the privilege of interviewing Joel back in 2007, and in that interview, he told about how the great move of the Holy Spirit occurred in the late 1960’s following the Six Day War in 1967.

To learn how the Six Day War caused a sudden explosion of Messianic Judaism, watch Christ in Prophecy!

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Dr. David Reagan

Dr. David Reagan is the Founder and Evangelist Emeritus of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He is a life-long Bible student, teacher, and preacher and he led over 45 pilgrimages to Israel. Dr. Reagan was the host of the radio then television program Christ in Prophecy for nearly 40 years.

20 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • The so-called “worship music” used in churches today leaves me as a old-time Southern Gospel and traditional Hymn fan and singer cold. It is a yard wide and a inch deep. Most of the time it’s full of personal pronouns and not anything of any deep spiritual value. Most of the songs sounds like love songs sung by some love-sick lover. None of the modern worship music stirs my soul like the old hymns and gospel songs.

    • I’m sorry sir I have to respectfully disagree. Many of the new contemporary songs are just Scripture place to music. A lot of it is just plain praise as Nathan described holy holy holy holy holy Lord God Almighty praise praise praise never-ending.
      Listen to this song, Bless the Lord O my soul tell me it isn’t real.

      I grew up with the piano and organ. That was great I have no issue with that we sang praise to Jesus, Yeshua, in our way.
      Everybody isn’t like you. It is our duty to approach them not on our terms, but theirs. It’s kind of like a sub-culture within a culture. Remember, Jesus had no problem associating with anybody. Oh course that does not mean having their heart, but embracing their “culture” to bring God’s love. Check out 1 Corinthians 9:20.
      Tell me what’s better, producing music that embraces God but nobody will listen to, or producing music that embraces God and appeals to the masses. Put it in perspective, it is just the instruments and sound that appears to be a big issue because it is used in evil rock ‘n’ roll. The only thing that counts is the message. Not the instruments. Remember even in the Old Testament say had percussion and stringed instruments. I guess they were shameful too.

      Make a joyful noise unto the Lord! When I worship/sing, I give it my all. I’m pretty sure it’s not a pleasant noise, but it is indeed a joyful noise/ praise to Yeshua.

      Like Nathan said, what really counts is Matthew 15:8 in that “it’s not the form of worship that matters, but the heart behind it”

      Worship music does not have to be sermons, in my opinion, it is praise to the one who is infinitely awesome and loves us so much shall we say beyond comprehension, it is a heart position 100%. If your heart is there you can be a primitive native in the jungle and dance and sing and carry-on and jump about and love Jesus, Yeshua, with all your heart!

      Remember King David, 2 Samuel chapter 6, the mighty King danced his heart out with no regard to what the populace thought.

      So, please think about it. Let’s all make a JOYFULL “noise”

    • Amen. It is indistinguishable from the hippie, coffee shop music of the 60″s or the hard rock, rap beat of today. . If the lyrics are not on the screen it is impossible to understand them. The problem is 99% of Baptist churches have adopted this music. If a church today would like to DISTINGUISH ITSELF, it should go back to the traditional Hymns. Thousand would leave their contemporary music churches and flock to the traditional Hymn church as is evident from the vast majority of the comments on this blog.

    • I find no reverence in today’s music. Too many “I”s. I grew up in a very traditional church and miss hymns and a pipe organ. Seems, too, that too many sermons try to paint God as the guy next door with a lawn mower he will lend you.

    • You are so right! One day we had a sermon about Jesus’ blood. Worship team couldn’t find any song that mentioned it, so the pastor told them to sing “There is a Fountain” from an old hymnal. You should have heard all people over 40 singing it with tears and volume.

  • turned the churches into pathetic uber sensual worldly secular smoked filled dark concerts where people are gyrating in the isles to the latin and hip hop beats. Kids gyrating and jumping around singing “I whip my hair” Check it out on youtube Church of the Glades Come on down to Sth Florida and check out our biggest andso called best churches. After almost 20 yrs the fruit has come to fruition…it’s so rotted…so sad

  • Mr. Pluth, I agree with you. The music today seems to be more noise than worship music.
    I was brought up with hymns that had meaning and in most cases came right out of the Bible. They were classics and are becoming a thing of the past. I find it hard to go to church that doesn’t have a piano or organ and worships with hymns out of a hymnal. I am trying to find a church that I can worship singing out of a hymnal instead of reading the words off a screen. I used to sing in a church that actually had a hymnal, a piano and an organ, where the music was heavenly singing in 4 parts. Today the music may draw the youth, but it turns me off.

  • Dick Pluth, My sentiment exactly. To me the lyrics of this music just sound like a bunch
    of disjointed words. Much of this music is indistinguishable from what you hear in coffee
    houses or even night clubs. Christians are supposed to be separated from the world.

    20 years from now the title of theses songs will be unknown. Contrast that from such well known Hymns as, AMAZING GRACE, HOW GREAT THOU ART, BECAUSE HE LIVES, THE OLD RUGGED CROSS. Many of these Hymns have been around for over 100 years and will be around
    for another 100 and will remain popular until the Lord returns.

    Too many pastors have switched to this contemporary format thinking that they can grow
    the church this way. While it may bring in a few young people, many more adults are
    leaving for this reason. I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church that has taken this
    route. The average attendance has not only stagnated but actually declined the past 10 years.
    As soon as we find a church that preaches the WORD and still has the traditional
    Hymns, we will be making a change as well. If you look at the large evangelical churches on
    TV such as Adrian Rogers’ and Robert Jeffress’ and David Jerimiah churches you can see that they are
    growing and have a huge following. These all still sing the Classic traditional Hymns.

  • Concerning some of the contemporary worship tunes, I too at times miss the songs that were filled with deep theological insights. It’s not that I’m a hymns-only sort of Christian, as I frequent a very contemporary service. But, it alarms me as well that there are a number of worship songs that do remind me of empty chanting. Still, that style isn’t in and of itself unbiblical. Revelation 4:8 describes the worship before the throne of God. “…Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’” This simple and repetitive form of worship is shown to be loved by the Father.

    Chanting becomes a useless expression of worship when it follows Eastern teachings that we must empty ourselves in order to find harmony with the universe, or some such nonsense. When we worship the Lord, it’s about focusing on God and letting Him fill us. That’s a very important distinction.

    It’s that distinction that determines if worship music is honoring God or not. Jesus set the criteria for worship in Matthew 15:8 which reads, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” In other words, it’s not the form of the worship that matters, but the heart behind it.

    I’d imagine when we get to Heaven it will be filled with every kind of music from every era and society in history. We personally may not like all of it, but the Author of Music certainly will.

  • I also miss the old hymns. A lot of today’s contemporary worship services seem to be more of a performance than a true worship service. Add to that the unfamiliarity of the songs and a congregation…audience if you prefer, that doesn’t know the lyrics and it sort of kills the worship buzz at least for me it does…sigh..

  • This “contemporary worship music” has caused a real problem for my husband and me. Because this “music” is prevalent in so many churches it is almost impossible to find a church that still sings the hymns and uses the piano or organ (you let us down on that comment, Dr. Regan). As another commented so perfectly – this music is self centered. The volume is way off the charts and drums are pagan in origin and have no place in worship music.

  • Ya know.. I always credited (the late) Larry Norman with bridging the gap between “Christian” and “Rock’n’Roll”. Unfortunately he was seen as too “R & R” for the Christian’s at the time, and too “Christian” for the R & Rollers.
    That said, and as a Christian song-writer and muso, I really enjoy the depth of those classic hymns. In several cases I have played them up-tempo.
    Contemporary Christian Music , however, definitely has it’s place. To quote Billy Graham regarding getting the message out, “you’ve got to speak their language”, and music can speak straight to the heart.
    To all my Christian song writing peers… keep up the “God” work!

  • I think there is more varieties of Christian music, but think that we used to have more religious music with God in the wording. I see many churches who are more social than they are biblical. I guess after the takeover of the Internet by the U.N. on September 30th at midnight there will be less communicating by people, but maybe they will turn more to God since rough times are ahead.

  • I agree with many of the posters here.. many contemporary Christian songs today border on worldliness, not so much lifting up praises and adoration to our Almighty and Holy Living God. Worship songs are for HIS glory and His only. I am convinced that most, if not all, megachurches today are already infiltrated by Satan and his angels — when the heavy drum beats and electric guitars commence at the start of worship service, I think it signals to the demons ‘come, it’s time!’ I believe that if a congregation started off by singing “Old Rugged Cross” or “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” the demons would shudder and flee as fast as possible.

    Not to be long-winded but I was rather taken aback by Lamb & Lion’s video on this topic — I could not believe Chuck Smith and his congregation laughing about drugs — sin is not funny. I felt that there was absolutely NO repentance on the part of these people that our Savior Jesus Christ shed His blood on the cross for those sins that they find so hilarious. I am a former attendee of Calvary Chapel but I see clearly that their ministry style does not CONVICT hearts to repentance, which explains their explosive growth, like all megachurches.

  • I too left ccftl for the same reason. The music was increasingly worldly and sensual. Calvary and now so many others are leading the flock right over the cliff with their so-called music revolution. Seeing to it that the next gen of so called christian youth are so entrenched in the filth of Hollywood, LA music and sports. I’ve never seen a so called church so steeply entrenched in the ways of this world. They say it’s so they can reach unbelievers. Jesus never resorted to acting evil to look good to this wicked world. One year the first day of school at the mandatory 2 hr start of the year rally they started off by playing Marvin Gayes I heard it through the grape vine. Gross so gross!! little children and young impressionable minds. And they’ll ostracize you if your kid doesn’t participate in their “productions” that parents have to pay for whether you are involved or not.. And sports is just as much of a god that they worship as much as music.

  • I grew up in the 60’s and much of today’s Christian Rock is similar to the drug days of that era. Counter culture clothing, songs without God being mentioned, claims of bizarre experiences, etc. There needs to be a better balance. Hillsing is out of control. No more crosses in the background, ministers looking like hippies, etc.


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