Method for Analyzing Lyrics in Congregational Singing

  • Kristi Colas Global Ethnodoxology Network


How important are the lyrics that we sing in church? Do they necessitate analysis and evaluation? If so, how might ethnodoxologists enable indigenous church leaders to do this in order to assess and improve their congregation’s active repertory? I developed a simple method for lyrical analysis and tested it during workshops with evangelical Christians in the United States, Central Asia, and France. Participants begin by considering why we sing as a congregation, according to Scripture. Next, they analyze song lyrics found in the Bible by asking specific questions of the text. They then apply the same analysis to song lyrics in their congregation’s active repertory and draw conclusions. The final section of the workshop involves stepping back and considering three major “lenses” through which we view worship: the cognitive, affective, and physical dimensions. I believe that this method of lyrical analysis could be beneficial both to ethnodoxologists and to indigenous congregations, because it increases awareness of lyrics, teaches critical thinking, and provides an objective grid for application in both literary and oral cultures.

Working papers