It is often mistakenly believed these sonatas were composed to be performed in religious ceremonies. While this may well have happened when voluntary music was required, they are not in the same category as, say, a requiem. These sonatas were often performed in concert for entertainment.
One of the greatest exponents of the sonata da chiesa was the Ravennate Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713). Among his finest compositions are 6 Sonata da Chiesa, Op.1; dedicated to queen Christina of Sweden, who lived in Rome. The first 8 of his 12 Concerti grossi, op.6 are also sonatas da chiesa. Another composer of this form of music was Giovanni Battista Bassani who circa 1710 composed twelve sonatas da chiesa. The three solo violin sonatas of J. S. Bach are of the sonata da chiesa form, as are his six sonatas for violin and obbligato harpsichord.
After 1700 this type of sonata tended to merge with the sonata da camera. This sonata da chiesa had become outdated by the time of Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), although he did compose a few pieces in this style, as did Mozart a few years later, although this term was now seldom used.