This article argues that gospel hymnody was integral to the construction of modern evangelicalism. Through an analysis of the debate over worship music in three denominations, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Christian Reformed Church, and the Reformed Church in America, from 1890–1940, I reveal how worship music was essential to the negotiation between churchly tradition and practical faith, between institutional authority and popular choice that characterized the twentieth-century “liberal/conservative” divide. While seemingly innocuous, debates over the legitimacy of gospel hymns in congregational worship were a significant aspect of the increasing theological, social, and cultural divisions within denominations as well as between evangelicals more broadly. Gospel hymnody became representative of a newly respectable, nonsectarian, and populist evangelicalism that stressed individualized salvation and personal choice, often putting it at odds with doctrinal orthodoxy and church tradition. These songs fostered an imagined community of conservative evangelicals, one whose formation rested on personal choice and whose authority revolved around a network of nondenominational organizations rather than an institutional body. At the same time, denominational debates about gospel hymnody reveal the fluid nature of the conservative/liberal binary and the complicated relationship between evangelicalism and modernism generally. While characterizations of “liberal” and “conservative” tend to emphasize biblical interpretation, the inclusion of worship music and style complicates this narrow focus. As is evident through the case studies, denominations typically categorized as theologically liberal or conservative also incorporated both traditional and modern elements of worship.