School of Music


Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS)


Hanna Byrd


Engagement, Seventh-day Adventist, Congregational Singing, Diversity, Worship


Liturgy and Worship | Music


Traditionally, Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) congregations are known for a rich history of worship music. However, the 21st century has introduced an expanded variety of worship music to reflect a number of musical genres found in American culture. SDA worship leaders face the challenge of engaging their congregations with songs that are reflective of the diverse cultures and ages represented, as well as achieving a balance of newer music and music from the historical SDA tradition. Nevertheless, without intuitive song selection, worship leaders may encounter disengagement among congregants during the time of congregational singing. This quantitative descriptive study measured which elements of congregational singing, melodic familiarity, lyrical content, and instrumental usage, engage congregants within urban SDA congregations. The results from the study supported the first hypothesis, that melodic familiarity engaged the most participants in the five songs examined. The second hypothesis which stated that, the musical element of instrumental usage will vary the most in levels of engagement according to age, was not supported by this research. Instrumental usage held the largest variation in one song, whereas melodic familiarity and lyrical content had much greater variance in 4 other songs. This information would allow SDA worship leaders to understand the impact various elements of music has on congregational engagement during the time of congregational singing. It would also provide an understanding of how to integrate these musical elements during the time of congregational singing, to engage the culturally and generationally diverse demographics of their congregants.