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Which Historical Worship Tradition Is on the Decline in American Churches?

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The recently released National Congregations Study has offered up a variety of data on changing trends in American houses of worship when it comes to the treatment of gays and lesbians and overarching demographics, but there's one data point that hasn't been given as much attention: the decline of choirs.

Church choirs have always been a tradition at American houses of worship, but among the 1,331 churches, synagogues, temples and other religious institutions that the National Congregations Study surveyed in 2012, a steep decline was observed in the presence of these musical bodies.

During the first wave of the study in 1998, 72 percent of respondents reported worshipping at a location that included a choir. But in 2012 that proportion dipped to 57 percent; it was found to be at 58 percent in the 2006-2007 wave, perhaps showcasing that the decline has leveled off somewhat over the past seven years, the New York Times reported.

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Religion News Service dug into the data a bit more and discovered that there are some notable differences among Christian cohorts. Ninety percent of attendees of black Protestant churches and 76 percent of Catholic attendees say that choirs are still present in worship services.

But only 40 percent of white conservative evangelical worshipers report having choirs at their churches — a steep decline from the 63 percent who said the same back in 1998.

There are a variety of possible reasons why this choral decline is afoot. Finances appear to be one of the factors, as cutting music and staff who facilitate this form of worship is sometimes one of the easier decisions to make when budgets tighten.

There's also a reluctance to perform based on the assumption that people simply aren't talented enough, as Religion News Service highlighted.

As TheBlaze previously reported, the research also found that more people are attending churches and houses of worship where more upbeat music, shouting, dancing and other expressions are prevalent, including the use of visual elements and projections.

Read more about some of the other results from the National Congregations Study here.


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