abba's way

Gospel Music — What Is It?

I must confess that I don’t listen to gospel music much. When I began writing what I call gospel music, songs based on Bible texts and on the words of Jesus, I produced them as best I could with good musicians, on vinyl records and audio cassettes.

There was a small audience and no radio station would touch my non-glitzy productions despite a prominent reviewer’s suggestion that one song, about Jesus the Healer, called The Touch of His Hand, should be a number one national hit!

No such luck.

The reason I do not listen to gospel music much is that much of it turns me off. Either it is over-produced, a clone of commercial music, indistinguishable from top 40, or it is a narcissistic exercise in wearing one’s faith on one’s sleeve.

I would listen to gospel music more if gospel music, as it is defined here, were available.

Consider this. We have hundreds of channels and thousands of CDs released all the time and I would bet that few of these has presented any gospel music that is simply the words of Jesus turned into gospel song.

One commercial exception to this is Bob Dylan. While he does not, in his Biblical songs, dwell that much on Jesus’s words, he does do some remarkable things. I particularly commend “Death Is Not The End”. Another exception is Leadbelly’s “We Shall Walk Through The Valley” — more or less lost in the mist but a wonderful song.

A while back, I watched Chris Matthews and Andrew Greeley having a friendly discussion and at one point Chris began to say how he wished Mel Gibson and other mega-commercial sorts would concentrate more on what Jesus taught. It seemed even Chris’ somewhat aggressive voice was softer and it got lost in the shuffle, as if he knew it was a futile wish.

Listen to gospel music? I will listen to gospel music when the high production values recede and the understanding of gospel music begins to change.


I have pretty much given up on getting my music out there even though I feel it is closer to what I mean by gospel music. But who knows?

The smell of the desert was still on his cloak

The sound of the mountain you could hear as he spoke

A look of such love in his eyes I could see

But the touch of his hand

The touch of his hand

The touch of his hand

The touch of his hand

The touch of his hand meant a new life for me

c Copyright 1977, 2008 by Stephen C. Rose


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