Dr. Stan McDaniel

Historical Perspectives on American Church Music for the 21st Century

Hi there and welcome to Stan-McDaniel.com. I hope to share through this website my passion for worship and music in the Church.

A Word from Stan

Dear friends and colleagues!

I am delighted you are visiting my website. I began my career in church music in 1967. Over the years since then, I have served  as a church musician or consulted in multiple denominations – Presbyterian, United Methodist, UCC, and Baptist – and in recent years have returned to my home denomination, the Protestant Episcopal Church. From 2003 to 2011, I had the privilege of serving as an adjunct professor of sacred music at the University of North Carolina/Greenville. 

From the very beginning, I have been a passionate believer in the power of music to witness and the need for church musicians to minister to the communities in which they serve. So many of the problems we face today in church music come from an ill-begotten myopia which limits our vision. Proponents of Contemporary Christian music condemn the music of traditional churches as antiquated while those favoring Eurocentric classically oriented repertoire are apt to regard all not within that purview as trash. Such dualistic perceptions have a long history in American church music history. They are destructive, and I believe must be confronted. 

Because of our pluralistic society, any history of American church music must be complex and multi-faceted. As a result, the last real attempts at a comprehensive treatment were done in the 1950s and 60s. With my book, Servanthood of Song: Music, Ministry, and the Church in the United States, and “Music Ministry Matters”, the newsletter I have created for this website, I have attempted to provide a unique, comprehensive history that surveys developments  in American Protestantism as well as Roman Catholicism. The societal and theological  currents throughout our history which continue to shape our music today are an important focus. Servanthood of Song is also the first general history of American church music which contains a serious overview of African American music from slavery times to the present.  

Now that you are here, I hope you will sign up for the free installments of “Music Ministry Matters”. More about that later!

Best Wishes and Peace,

Stan McDaniel

Available Now!

Music Ministry Matters

About Stan McDaniel

"I firmly believe that knowing the historical context gives meaning to our lives and is essential to the work of church musicians."

From Servanthood of Song, Epilogue


Music, Ministry, and the Church in America

Servanthood of Song is a history of American church music from the colonial era to the present. It’s focus is on the institutional and societal pressures that have shaped church song and have led us directly to where we are today.

The gulf which separates advocates of traditional and contemporary worship – Black and White, Protestant and Catholic – is not new. History repeatedly shows us that ministry, to be effective, must meet the needs of the entire worshipping community, not just one segment, age group, or class. 

Servanthood of Song provides an historical context for trends in contemporary worship in the United States and suggests that the current polemical divisions between advocates contemporary and traditional classically-oriented church music are both un-necessary and counterproductive.

It also draws from history to show that, to be the powerful component of worship it can be, music – whatever the genre – must be viewed as a ministry with training appropriate to that.

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