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Don't Do it For the Kids

As part of the preparation for this summer’s General Convention, the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church commissioned a report on a possible revision of the Hymnal 1982.  According to Robert Hendrickson, program director of the St. Hilda’s House and Ascension House residential internship programs for young adults and new clergy curate and missioner at Christ Church New Haven, the report includes details of the results of surveys conducted designed to ascertain the level of support or lack thereof for a revision of the Hymnal 1982.

According to Herndrickson, one factor emerged which seemed a surprise to those administering the survey: the group most resistant to the idea of revising the hymnal are those under 29 years of age. They are the most resistant by a large percentage. The report concludes, on page 57, “Respondents in their twenties and younger are statistically different than the rest of the respondents, reporting the least interest in desiring worship music to reflect their personal musical tastes. This proves counter to the “common knowledge” theory that younger congregants are looking for a more modern or popular-music experience at church.”

One 22 year old respondent said, "I think there is a huge assumption made that the younger generation wants guitar- and piano-based praise and worship music. …What we want to hear in a Sunday Eucharist are the classic hymns played on organ. And occasionally we want to chant. Church is the one place where our musical taste is not based upon fad, but instead links us with a much more important, more elegant tradition. If I wanted to listen to acoustic guitar and piano, I’d pick up Dave Matthews or Ben Folds. If I wanted rap, I’d listen to Lil Wayne. …For worship, I want music that connects to me a world outside of the in and out of my daily life.”

The full report may be found at

My thanks to Dr. Charlotte Kroeker and The Church Music Institute for pointing me to this research.