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Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Integration, Scholarship of Discovery


Congregational singing is a source of basic theological instruction, both reflecting and shaping what we believe. It is crucial, therefore, that we say what we believe when we sing. In this study, the authors focused on the songs most accessed by users of the Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. (CCLI) service between 2006-2012. Twenty songs were identified as having received significant usage during this time period.

The results of this study found that a representative sampling of the lyrics of the most popular congregational songs did not sufficiently express foundational concepts of the Christian faith. Although individual congregations may have a systematic plan for teaching Christian theology in other parts of the church service than congregational singing, the high comparative use of the top songs listed suggests that very few systematic plans are used for congregational singing; that instead, a random selection of songs are used, with little regard to any formal theological training for the congregation, or to even attempt to more comprehensively reflect a specific doctrinal teaching in any single service. It is incumbent on pastors to avoid treating congregational singing as the “warm-up” for the “real” teaching time. It is also incumbent on church music leaders to either choose or compose songs that connect to a specific theological concept in a comprehensive, systematic, and not haphazard way.


This paper was presented to the Olivet Nazarene University community on April 22, 2014 in conjunction with Scholar Week 2014.