Local Praise, Global Worship: The Role of Music in Localizing Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity Worldwide
The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed the rapid growth of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity, now estimated at 500 million adherents worldwide. Participatory music-making is a central component of worship in Pentecostal congregations. Certain songs, styles, and musical practices have crossed geographic and cultural boundaries to become hallmark features of Pentecostal-charismatic spirituality worldwide. Despite music’s importance within Pentecostal ritual, its role in facilitating these multiple boundary crossings has gone largely unexamined. This paper incorporates insights from ethnomusicology, the anthropology of Christianity, liturgical studies, and popular music studies to theorize how distinctive congregational music practices have contributed to Pentecostalism’s global spread. Using Joel Robbins’s (2011) discussion of Pentecostal ritual as a launching point, this paper focuses on the widespread Pentecostal-charismatic song genre known as “praise and worship music” and its accompanying ritual structure. The paper puts the author’s own ethnographic research within diasporic pentecostal communities in Toronto in dialogue with recent ethnomusicological studies of Pentecostal groups across five continents. These case studies are used to demonstrate a baseline of musical commonality across Pentecostal groups and to show how the particularities of Pentecostal ritual structure encourages the incorporation of globalized musical forms even as it allows local styles to flourish. The study contributes to recent theoretical work considering music’s role in religious globalization; further, it suggests that in order to understand how contemporary religious practices cross boundaries of region, nation, and ethnicity, scholars must pay sustained attention to religious communities’ music.
Monique Ingalls is Assistant Professor of Church Music at Baylor. She joined the faculty in 2014 after completing a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology (University of Pennsylvania, 2008) and a postdoctoral teaching fellowship at the University of Cambridge (2011-14), as well as a concurrent appointment as a Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. At Baylor, Dr. Ingalls teaches interdisciplinary courses on congregational music-making and supervises masters and doctoral research on church music topics. Her articles have been published in the fields of ethnomusicology, media studies, hymnology, and religious studies. She has published two edited books showcasing new approaches to research on Christian congregational music, and her forthcoming monograph on worship music in contemporary US evangelicalism is under contract with Oxford University Press. She is co-founder and organizer of the biennial international conference “Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives" and Series Editor for Ashgate Press’s Congregational Music Studies book series. Honors and awards include the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Charles Seeger Prize, the American Musicological Society’s Janet Levy Award, the British Academy's Small Research Grant, the Cambridge University Teaching Excellence Award, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music’s Senior Research Fellowship.