School of Music


Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS)


Mindy Damon


Edification, Transcendence, Worship, Lyrics, Music, Theology


Liturgy and Worship | Music | Psychology


Modern Christian worship music has gained influence within the evangelical community. The words of these songs, sung corporately, have the potential to influence the spiritual lives of church congregants, making it important for worship leaders and songwriters to identify the most beneficial lyrics. Despite numerous opinions about theological and personally relevant lyrics, little research has been conducted on the spiritual effects of lyric content within the lives of Christian believers. Diminutive scholarly inquiry has been limited to historical, theological or qualitative methodologies. Utilizing the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and the Spiritual Transcendence Index (STI), this quantitative quasi-experimental study employed a pretest/posttest design to determine whether worship lyrics, in general, led to stronger perceptions of spiritual edification and if integrated lyrics led to stronger perceptions of spiritual edification than lyrics that are either emotionally- or theologically-driven. The study attempted to identify lyric choices that promoted strong personal perceptions of spiritual edification in a sample of 70 evangelical believers between the ages of 18-23 years of age who attended a large university in the Mid-Atlantic United States and were currently enrolled in an introductory worship course. The results showed a statistically significant difference in spiritual edification from pretest to posttest after exposure to worship lyrics in general. In addition, there was a significantly higher spiritual edification score in the integrated lyric group, as compared to the emotional lyric group. However, there was no significant difference between an integrated and theological lyric approach on posttest spiritual edification scores. The results suggested that the lyrics of worship songs may aid in promoting spiritual edification and that there is merit in integrating both relational and theological components.