A Quick Look at Church Music

Anthony Freddura, a senior systems business analyst for the Massachusetts health care cost-management company MultiPlan, Inc., not only leads multiple strategic initiatives but is instrumental in the development of those initiatives’ documentation, a critical but often overlooked aspect of digital business solutions. A graduate of Massachusetts’ Stonehill College, he has worked for such firms as Brown Brothers Harriman, Fidelity Investments, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Genentech, and Iron Mountain. Anthony Freddura enjoys a broad range of interests outside the office and enthusiastically participates in the music ministry of the Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Although little is known about the music at the time of Christ, evidence suggests it was simple, presented as a single melody, sometimes accompanied by a drum. After Jesus’ time and the development of Christianity into a power in Europe, most music was developed for the church and was meant to complement Jesus’ message and the church’s teachings.

Musical expression developed over time and became more sophisticated, while retaining its melodic simplicity. A good example of this is the famous chants of the Gregorian monks. Another major development, which came about in the mid-1100s, was polyphony, or the simultaneous playing of two separate melodies. This style of music can be traced to a single composer, a Frenchman named Leonin, who worked for the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

While modern congregations might consider polyphony staid or quaint, it aroused a great deal of controversy in its time. Many objected, insisting that the new approach placed more importance on the music than on the underlying Christian message. Polyphony was too flashy, they said, and the controversy continued for hundreds of years. In his blog, Anthony Freddura points out an interesting parallel between Leonin’s invention and the more recent adoption by Christian congregations of rock music. This experimentation with rock music as a way of appealing to younger congregants met with controversy and outright hostility from some, but gained general acceptance in far less than the hundreds of years it took for the controversy surrounding polyphony to diminish.