Towards a Qualitative Model of Religious Worship Experiences: Perceived encounters with the divine in the ritual context of musical devotion practices

Yoshija Walter 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp. 94-141

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The current qualitative study investigates how religious experiences, in this case subjectively perceived encounters with the divine in worship practices, are induced and experienced by believers under the influence of music. Fifteen worship experts (worship leaders and pastors known to engage in this spiritual state in music) were recruited from Pentecostal and charismatic churches. A qualitative model for religious worship, incorporating essence, meaning, music, method, and experience is proposed. It shows that there is not just ‘one’ religious experience in worship but that there are many of them (a preliminary typology is attempted). There is a feedback loop between the music, the focus on the divine and the mental associations that can strengthen or weaken the experience. The role of music in worship, two approaches to religious experiences (i.e., the sui generis and the attribution theory), and the possibilities for future research are discussed.

Keywords: Devotion, Music, Phenomenology of Religion, Religious Experience, Worship