Churchgoers prefer traditional hymns and praise choruses in worship services
The results of the 2016 NCLS confirm the popularity of traditional hymns followed by praise music and choruses in church worship services.
Contemporary hymns and other styles of music were less popular among Australian churchgoers.
In the 2016 NCLS, church attenders surveyed from across faith traditions were asked to assess ‘which of the following styles of music do you feel would be most helpful to you in congregational worship'? (Mark up to TWO).
Churchgoers ranked traditional hymns (47%) closely followed by praise music and choruses (41%) as the main styles most helpful to attenders. Contemporary hymns (29%) and other music or songs (15%) were placed next on the preferred list of style of music. Only 1% of churchgoers expressed a preference for no music or songs in their worship services.
|In worship services attenders always/usually experience...||Preference for music style|
|Preaching helpful to my life||Music I appreciate||Inspiration||A sense of God's presence||Growth in understanding of God||Challenge to action||Traditional hymns||Praise music & choruses||Contemporary hymns|
More than half of Protestant and Anglican attenders (52%) rated praise music and choruses as their most preferred music style compared with 29% of Catholic attenders.
Catholic churchgoers were most likely to rank traditional hymns as their preferred music style. Just over of Catholic attenders (53%) ranked traditional hymns most popular compared with 43% of Protestant attenders.
Our research highlights that while there is some diversity in music preferences across denominations, almost all churchgoers say they would have a preference for some form of music or song in their church worship service, rather than none. In the coming years it remains to be seen whether contemporary hymns, being a relatively recent development, become more popular and widespread in their use in worship services, particularly amongst younger generations.
More information on traditional vs contemporary styles of worship and music across generational groupings is available in the article Builders and Boomers: a bridge from faithful tradition to contemporary choice.
Data source: Powell, R. Sterland, S. Pepper, M. and Hancock, N. (2016). 2016 NCLS Attender Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.
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