Nigerian Gospel Songs

What Makes a Song a Gospel Song?

Hey, it’s no news that determining what makes a song a gospel song is pretty hard. 

So much confusion as to what makes a song a gospel song.

A ton of gospel music artiste can’t differentiate between a secular song and a gospel song. Because these days, some secular songs seem like gospel.  

It’s becoming increasingly tough, right?

In this post, I will lay down all the qualities of a good gospel song and detailed differences between secular and gospel music.

Without further ado. 

Let’s get to it.

What makes a song a gospel song? The standalone factor that differentiates a gospel song from others is the solemn nature and appreciative tone to God. A gospel song is a melodious way of praying to God and any songs that omit that is a secular song in disguise.

But some secular artiste sing praises right? Let’s look into it and how to further differentiate them.

Consequently, knowing what gospel music is and the evolution of gospel music will further strengthen your conviction.

We will be discussing the following in detail.

  • What is Gospel Music
  • Brief Evolution of gospel music
  • Difference between gospel songs and secular songs

So, let’s delve right in.

What Is Gospel Music?

According to gospel chopsGospel music is a genre of Christian music that usually has dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony) with Christian or biblical lyrics.

I modified it a bit.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music that seeks to spread the good news of God in hymns, psalms, worship, and vocal chants.

Gospel music definition may vary from person to person. It may be influenced by social-cultural, traditional, semantic (Language), and economic factors.

What this entail is, African gospel music may differ from western gospel music in mode of delivery but should embody the same message and pass on the same message. 

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Gospel music has no generally accepted definition, which is the reason some secular songs are mistaken for gospel songs. 

Simply mentioning Jesus in your songs doesn’t automatically tag it gospel. 

Your song in its entirety should evangelize the good news of the God which ministers to the souls of people.

Before I state the differences between gospel and secular songs. 

Let’s quickly look into;

The Evolution of Gospel Music

Going back, gospel music is deeply rooted in Africa-American slaves. Yes, you heard me. Gospel music emanated from the slave trade that took place in the late 1800s.

Africans were enslaved and trafficked to the United States. Often, they will hold church services and the slaves will be made to hold their church services differently.

Years flipped, and they started incorporating Christian religious behavior of singing hymns, psalms, and sacred songs. These songs are however characterized by handclapping and foot-stomping.

Whenever they encountered hardship and pain, songs of pain and chants of tears of hope proceed out of their mouth as a way of keeping hope alive.

They sing sorrowful songs day in day out.

Over the years, this practice became a ritual. They sang soul-stirring songs to edify and uplift their spirit – plus reignite hope amidst the inhuman treatment minted out to them.

Gospel music evolved over the years, it birthed other genres of gospel music like;

  • Contemporary gospel music
  • Traditional gospel music
  • Rap
  • Pop
  • Praise and Worship
  • Blues
  • Metal

which finally bring us to;

What’s The Difference Between Gospel and Secular Music?

Without further ado, there’s a lot of controversy about tagging secular music sinful and gospel music, Christian. 

there’s a spectrum of talks and opinions about this topic. some say it’s bad to tag secular music as sinful and bad. 


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But there’s a clear distinction between gospel music and secular songs. If this topic is not worth talking about, then i won’t be writing this for you. 

Below are carefully selected distinguishing qualities of the gospel and secular songs.

1. Lyrics

Look, I’ve read a bunch of articles that stress that gospel and secular music serve the same purposes and shouldn’t be differentiated by religious mentions.

That’s a carefully worded lie.

Gospel music is not characterized by the constant use of words like; lord, Jesus, Goodness, Holy.

It’s a song that affirms and propagates Jesus as the king and also highlighting the qualities of a good Christian. 

Remember gospel music is “Good news”. And lyrics that carefully describe the posture and figure-eight (lol) of a lady is not consistent is the Good news.

Would you confidently recommend the video of a song that depicts nudity, pornography, vulgar words (F*ck, s*x) to your kid?.

I doubt it. 

Can I ask you? 

why are some musical videos tagged 18plus only? if the message is beneficial to everyone. 

2. Office

Truth be told, songs are products of passion and experience, but gospel songs are products of divine encounter and experience with the kingdom. 

It’s the reason they are timeless. children unborn still recite songs written 200 years ago. 

Most of the hymns today were written 600 years ago but are still evergreen. 

when a song resonates with the spirit of a being. it creates in them a temple that keeps craving for more. 

And gospel songs have done that satisfactorily.

what do I mean by the office?

The office of secular music is the industry. That’s why everyone is craving to be a part of. while gospel music is solemn and different. its a branch of the ministry of Christ. 

Gospel Artistes are called and ordained by God. which is shown in their songs. 

now, I’m no way saying they are great and perfect. I’m only admiring their ministry not them as beings.

So, the ministry is subdivided into facets;

  • Prophetic Ministry
  • Pastoral Ministry
  • Evangelical Ministry
  • Gospel music Industry

While secular music is limitless. Secular songs have no rules. whatever is sung by an artist is believed to have emanated from inspiration. 

In fact, some secular musical videos are banned. why do you think the government bans some songs? 

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It’s simple, to restore sanity and uphold uprightness. 

3. Imagery/theme

Why would you listen to a song and cry? what is it about the song? but somehow, it stirs your spirit and being and suddenly streams of tears fall off your chin.

In fact, why would you want to make amends after listening to a song? I bet you know the answers to these super important queries.

The singular reason is they often adopt strong use of harmony and divine utterances which ministers to the soul and mind.

Imagery is the mental picture something creates and the theme is a central idea or takeaway of something. 

it’s undoubtedly true, that some secular songs describe female butts, posture, lustful looks, pornography, and the likes.

Not only in words but also in their music videos. I was once a fan of secular music. I know the feeling.

On the other hand, gospel music creates an inexplicable experience. something so mysterious that words cannot describe.

so, when looking for a good gospel song, imagery and theme is key.

In Conclusion – What Makes a Song a Gospel Song 

Contemporary gospel music is also a contributing factor to the confusion. These days, we’ve over tens of thousands of genres of gospel music under contemporary gospel music.

I recently heard one; hip hop gospel. There’s no way I’m going to see that a gospel song. 

Until you understand that gospel music is not for pleasure, the better us.

Gospel music songs are not as complicated as it sound.

It’s just a medium God expresses ideas to a generation. 

so, we were able to cover, What makes a song a gospel song? what is gospel music? Brief evolution of gospel music and some qualities differentiates both.

Was this article helpful? Did you get value? tell me what I omitted from this article in the comment section.

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