Cliff Ganus

A Short History of Congregational Singing

  • What was singing like in the early church and what role did it play in the Christian's life?  What role does it play today?

  • How did the church change dramatically in the fourth century?

  • How did the Reformers deal with church singing?

  • What were some contributions by important authors and composers of congregational songs?

  • How has music both united and divided Christian fellowships?


This book is about songs which were intended for congregations rather than choirs or trained musicians. It is not a collection of hymn stories. Instead, it describes the settings behind those stories.


I have tracked important events and ideas in the church’s history in order to provide a sense of the environment that produced its songs. In several cases I have paired hymns with contemporaneous tunes that the authors might have known, in order to put the words into a more authentic context and, perhaps, give them a fresh hearing to our ears today.

Cliff Ganus



190 pp.