School of Music
Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)
Music, Deaf Culture, Ethnomusicology, Ethnodoxology, Worship, Music Therapy
Ethnomusicology | Liturgy and Worship | Music
Dunn, Mallory Ruth, "The Role of Music in Worship among Deaf Culture Christianity" (2018). Masters Theses. 546.
Throughout the Word of God, we are called to worship our Creator through music. "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn--shout for joy before the Lord, the King" (Psalm 98: 4-6 [NIV]). It has been said that music is a universal language: but all cultures use it differently and therefore it is not a universal language but a universal phenomenon. What about the individual who cannot hear the music or the individual who has no voice and cannot sing? The purpose of this study was to seek out how the Deaf Culture defines music and utilizes it within the church and for expressing worship. After observing both predominately hearing church services and Deaf church services, watching music worship videos created by Deaf churches and interpreters, as well as conducting interviews among the Deaf Culture, I found that there is a place for music in the church. After interviewing people connected to this culture including Christian American Sign Language and hearing interpreters, it revealed that music does in fact play a role in the spiritual lives of the Deaf Culture for many but not all, however it also shed light on the minimal percentage of Deaf Christians and the lack of musical worship materials for Deaf Christians to utilize in their daily walk with Christ. While understanding the minimal percentage of Deaf Culture members in the church, and after speaking with several different members of the Deaf Culture, it was well understood that many Deaf people have been left out of the church or told that they do not belong in the church. From those individuals who have remained in or returned to the church or have recently begun attending, their musical preferences range in a similar variety to that of the hearing Christian church: anywhere from classic hymns, to rock and full bands, from traditional to contemporary depending on the person.