Friday, November 20, 2015

What are the most commonly sung LDS hymns? DATA NEEDED

[Link to hymn form.]

This year is the 30th anniversary of the current LDS hymnbook. Because I love playing with data and numbers I was wondering what were the most commonly sung LDS hymns. There are a few people who have looked at the most commonly sung hymns at General Conference, but the hymns sung at Conference aren't always the same hymns we sing in church every Sunday. Someone at BYU did do an informal poll, but I wanted a slightly larger sample.

I plan on keeping track of which hymns are sung in my ward every week, but to get a larger sample I need data from other wards. So if you want to help out, at the very top of this post, and also below, I have a link to a Google form where you can enter which hymns were sung in your ward. You only have to enter hymn numbers to make it easier. So this Sunday when you go to church take note of the hymn numbers and enter them into the form. It should take no more than 15-20 seconds.

I am looking for hymns sung in any meeting. That includes Sacrament Meeting, Stake Conference, and Priesthood or Relief Society meetings. If you sing a hymn for Seminary or Institute you can enter that as well. If you can only enter data for one Sunday that is just great. But if you feel like contributing more to the data collection you can keep coming back every week and enter more hymns. I'll put a link to the form in the sidebar, or you can bookmark the link (like me), so you can find it easily. You can also collect the data in a text document or spreadsheet (maybe you are the person in your ward who chooses the hymns) and send it to me. I got 6 months worth of data from a ward in Australia because the ward music director kept a record of it and sent it to me. So what ever is easiest.

I plan on collecting data from my ward for at least two years (I have been collecting data for the past month and a half already). This ensures that I get data from Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Pioneer Day and everything in between. I want to augment this a larger sample from other wards. I realize not everyone is a data nerd like me, so I set it up to make it simple so anyone can contribute, even if it is only for one Sunday. If you want to contribute more that would be great.

So why am I doing this?

Like I said, I like data, and I like numbers. Sometimes those numbers tell us things we didn't expect. I love the hymns, and this is one way that I can learn more about them and how we interact with the hymns. Some people may be curious just which hymns are sung all the time, and which one we never sing. This is intended to answer those questions. At some future date the church may decide to redo the hymnbook and it might be helpful to know which ones we sing all the time and which ones we never touch.

In a broader sense, and anyone who loves data and numbers like me knows this, if the data is there we will find some use for it, but if we never gather it we will never know what we can discover.

I should point out that the most commonly sung hymns may not be the most popular. There are constraints on time, or ability which may skew the numbers (one year in seminary we sang "Choose the Right" nearly every day because only one person could play the piano and that was the only song she knew well enough to play). Just because a song is not sung frequently doesn't mean people don't like it, or it isn't popular. So this may just tell us which songs are easy to sing and commonly known.

I hope you choose to help out. If you have any questions just leave a comment or email me at [the title of this blog]

I will provide, or link to any updates to this project. Like I said, I plan on this being a long term project to get enough data. Please share this with friends and family (but try not to duplicate data with more than one person per ward), so I can get as much data as possible. Please.


Unknown said...

I would like to hear what you find out, because I'm trying to learn to play the hymns on the piano and would like to focus on the most commonly sung.

Quantumleap42 said...

If you are just learning to play I would recommend focusing on a set of 10-20 hymns that can be used in a variety of meetings or situations. I would recommend hymns like:

Redeemer of Israel (6)
We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet (19)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (72)
For the Beauty of the Earth (92)
Nearer, My God, to Thee (100)
With Humble Heart (171)
While of These Emblems We Partake (173 or 174)
He Is Risen! (199)
Silent Night (204)
Because I Have Been Given Much (219) - Warning Advanced
Lord, I would Follow Thee (220)
We Love Thy House, O God (247)
If You Could Hie to Kolob (284)
I Am a Child of God (301)
I Know My Father Lives (302)
Teach Me to Walk in the Light (304)
As Sister in Zion (309)
Ye Elders of Israel (319)
Rise Up, O Men of God (324)
My Country, 'Tis of Thee (339) or God Save the King/Queen (341)

If you learn those 20 hymns you have a set that you can play for almost any occasion and no one will ever know that you only know 20 hymns and they will think you are a pro. They also have the advantage of being some of the easiest hymns to play (mostly).

Don Stevic said...

I was called last year to lead the music in sacrament. I am on a quest to not repeat a song except for sacrament hymns all year. So far, so good

Marissa said...

Do you have an estimate as to when we'll be able to see the results?