Not sure how we at the Café missed this at the time, but a couple of years ago, a very large study was undertaken, involving 9,016 Episcopalian congregation members, 2,575 clergy, and 1,139 music directors, representing 3,060 congregations, as well as 55 bishops and 102 seminarians.
The subject? Revising the 1982 hymnal.
As this article explained, those of us involved in parish music at the ground level will not be surprised by one of the elements of the survey. Young people are much less likely to want the hymnal to be revised. This pattern holds even more true for those clergy who are 29 and younger.
A quick glance at the charts throughout the study shows that music directors generally value new music much, much more than their congregations do, including the wide variety of contemporary styles such as worship, multicultural, and praise music.
One of the study’s conclusions:
Perhaps most significantly, there is no pattern in which youth correlates with a particular movement towards new forms of musical expression. To revise the Hymnal must in some way be a project that is a gift to the next generation. Gaining some clearer sense of what the worship music of that generation will look like will require a longer and more careful period of discernment.
The entire report is certainly worth reading!
Thanks to Michelle Klima