On a hill overlooking Nashville, Tennessee, sits what used to be a quaint and spired church, designed to draw eyes and thoughts heavenward. Now, done up in Goth black, the building houses a bar and music club. One night not long ago, however, it became a church again, as the band Sonicflood filled it with worship music. The packed crowd alternately raised their voices in praise and lowered their heads in long, silent prayer.

A twentysomething man with spiky hair and metal-studded nose, lip and eyebrow, looked around at the amalgam of ages and personalities. "The music drew me back," he said, meaning back to the Christianity of his youth. "Now I'm attending church again and talking to God all the time."

Worship music will do that. It turns you to God, draws you closer to him.

"More people than ever seem to be hearing it and participating in it," says Jeff Deyo, Sonicflood's former lead singer. "It's amazing, the movement of God through music right now."

Of course, God's people have always sung his praises. Psalm 100 tells us to "worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." Martin Luther, in addition to launching the Protestant Reformation, penned the triumphant anthem "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Most of Johann Sebastian Bach's music was written for the church. And it's no coincidence that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" share a melody line. Then in the late 1960s, the hippie-style worship of the "Jesus People" movement birthed what would become contemporary Christian music (CCM).

"What we're seeing today is a revival of praise and worship music," says Mac Powell, lead singer of the Christian rock band Third Day. In 2000, the ten-year-old band released Offerings, their first worship album. "We recorded it to honor God, to thank him for everything he's done," says Powell. "We would have been happy if it sold just half of what our albums normally sell." Turns out, it became Third Day's best-selling album, with consumers scarfing up a million copies.

Already one of Christendom's top stars, Michael W. Smith scored his biggest record when he released Worship two years ago (it sold over a million copies in its first nine months and inspired a sequel, 2002's Worship Again). "Its success is both surprising and gratifying," says Smith. "I've led worship in church for 20 years but always released contemporary music. So I finally cut an album of the music that's closest to my heart---and boom!"

Boom is right, and not just for Smith and Third Day. Worship music is thriving, whether it's in church or on CDs. With a whopping 5.7 million albums sold, Songs 4 Worship: Shout to the Lord from longtime worship label Integrity Music and late-night TV hawker Time-Life Music became each company's best-selling double-disc set. According to the Gospel Music Association (GMA), for each of the past two years, consumers purchased 50 million Christian recordings---double the number from 2000. This figure comprises all genres---rock, country, pop, gospel---but worship accounts for about a quarter of it.

"God is calling his people to him, and we are all responding, baby Christians and mature Christians alike."  --Stu Garrard, of "Delirious?"

Pastors have noticed an increased interest in worship music, as well. Recording artist Terry MacAlmon reports that the number of invitations he receives from churches around the country to lead worship "has exploded. The congregations are bigger and more passionate about praising and worshiping God." And sales of his worship albums have spiked accordingly: from a few thousand two years ago to a quarter-million this year.

This worship resurgence is hardly limited to America's neck of the woods, either. "This is a global phenomenon," says Valerie Davis, marketing director for Vineyard Music. "In the past four years, we have planted music ministries in New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K., Canada---a lot of countries. A worship album we just recorded in Turkish is going gangbusters. People all over the world are hungry for worship."