This article uses insights from an empirical study of music-users to explore the assumptions and expectations which everyday music is likely to create within a Western Christian congregation. It identifies the desire to be happy, the search for a safe space, a concern about personal identity and a willingness to use music to acknowledge negative emotions as four key emphases of the practice of contemporary listening. These four emphases are explored in relation to the practice of contemporary worship. It is shown that whilst it could be argued that everyday music dulls the expectations of the non-musical – for the musical may gain much through performance and participation in music-making – it is nevertheless vital that theological attention is paid to what is happening to congregation-members. The potentially salvific work to which music contributes is in need of further exploration and articulation in contemporary theology.
P. N. Juslin and P. Laukka‘Expression, perception and induction of musical emotions: a review and a questionnaire study of everyday listening’Journal of New Music Research33 (2004) 217–38; as reported in J. Sloboda ‘Music in Everyday Life’. We only came across this research after completing our own.