• Glenn Packiam

What We Sing About When We Sing About God

Ever wonder what we sing about?

Lester Ruth, Research Professor of Christian Worship at Duke Divinity School, decided to find out. Ruth examined the CCLI Top 25 lists for North America since those lists first appeared in 1989. He discovered that in the almost 25 years since, 100 songs had appeared in those lists.

He then indexed the nouns and verbs in those songs for a comparative study he was doing between contemproary worship songs and evangelical hymns. You can read his paper (with this appendix) HERE.

I offer four observations, listed here with no comment:

NOUNS: We address God generically– with no name– TWICE (8% of the songs) as often as we reference the Trinity (4% of the songs).

VERBS: We sing about human action roughly 1.5 times more (562 times) than we sing about divine action (380 times).

Our favorite verb for God? Save.

Our favorite verb for us? Praise.

But lest we get nostaligic about the “old hymns”, Ruth’s research was a comparative study of contemporary worship songs with Evangelical hymns, and the hymns (about 200 years old or so) don’t fare too much better. See his slides comparing verbs HERE and comparing nouns HERE.