Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hymns Project—Overview

This website describes a data collection and statistics project I'm doing on the hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints*. My goal is to answer questions such as the following:

  • Which hymns are the most common? How many hymns are never sung at all? Is there a gradual continuum between the popular and unpopular ones, or do people tend to sing, say, 50 hymns equally while leaving rest virtually untouched?
  • What regional trends are there in hymn selection? For example, do wards in Utah sing more pioneer hymns than the rest of the country? Do wards in the South sing more hymns used by other Christian churches? Are there other hymns that, for some reason, are popular only in a small part of the country?
  • What other variables determine hymn selection? For example, do hymns that have a really high melody get sung less often? Do interesting chord progressions make a hymn more popular? Do older lyrics/music have any effect? Do people sing certain hymns more in the morning than in the afternoon?

My goal is to have a year's worth of hymns sung in sacrament meeting for about 300 wards. Additionally, I'll see if I can gather information about the wards themselves, such as whether they use an organ or piano and what time sacrament meeting is. I've also spent considerable time in the hymnal, keeping track of stuff about the hymns themselves such as the key signature, tempo, when the music/lyrics were written, how many verses, and the range of all four parts. (For a more detailed explanation of how I'm analyzing the hymns, see Behind the Scenes.)

If you would like to help with this project—maybe you know someone who has your ward's hymns on a spreadsheet somewhere—click on the How to help tab at the top of the page!

The end result

Why am I doing this? Frankly, it's out of mild curiosity. Curiosity for data gathering, crunching numbers, and sacrament hymns. However, I do think I could find some interesting results.

*This project is not affiliated, sponsored, nor endorsed in any way by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.