Christian Musical Worship and 'Hostility to the Body'

The Medieval Influence Versus the Pentecostal Revolution


  • Michael Amoah Middlesex University



church music, Max Weber, Pentecostal, dance


Herbert Spencer (1896) discussed how the prominent social role of music embodies a ‘twinlike’ relationship with dance. This relationship is implicit between the type of dance and music—and obviously the occasion—whether it be a South American samba, an African kantata or a European waltz. The characteristically slow, sober and sombre style of orthodox or mainstream church music and its apparent disunion with dance would appear to derive from the medieval influence of Augustine, who used the inarticulate nature of dance as a justification for this division. Weber, a social observer of Eurocentric background, recognised the problem and propounded the theory of ‘bodiless music’, but, contrary to popular belief, this did not stem from a conservative Eurocentric bias. This article explains that Pentecostalism, in contrast to the medieval phenomenon of ‘bodiless music’, broadly features a lively, exuberant and multi-instrumental musicality in worship which reflects global developments, and is also biblical. The Pentecostal exuberant musicality has become an incentive for mostly younger populations, and vibrant music has become a popular marketable product in the competition for customers within the unregulated religious economy.



How to Cite

Amoah, M. (2004). Christian Musical Worship and ’Hostility to the Body’: The Medieval Influence Versus the Pentecostal Revolution. Implicit Religion, 7(1), 59–75.