Elspeth Manders

Published On


Page Range

pp. 305–326


  • English

Print Length

22 pages

15. Listening to the Lived Experiences of Worshippers

A Study of Post-Pandemic Mixed Ecology Worship

The status of worship changed indelibly following the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, the rise in online worship impacted how music is accessed and shared, raising questions regarding the purpose of worship in this new age, the faithfulness to scripture in an increasingly secular context, and the influence of online worship on religious narratives. Previous research using empirical methods, such as mixed method surveys, has already offered invaluable contributions to reflections upon the consequences of the pandemic for worship. However; recognising that lived Christian realities are highly complex, and difficult to capture via a questionnaire, I sought to unpack lived worshipper experiences using interviews. I used a qualitative research methodology, precisely Reflexive Thematic Analysis, to investigate the worshipping experiences of five Catholic and Anglican laity worshippers and employees in the community of the Diocese of Chelmsford. In thematically analysing five interviews, I suggest four future strategies for implementing mixed ecology worship: online worship, communication, musical rhetoric, and chorister recruitment. Outcomes from using qualitative research to listen to worshippers’ experiences indicate that access to worship online is worth sustaining and developing, and that churches have work to do to ensure the continued viability of traditional choral music-making in the post-pandemic praxis.


Elspeth Manders

Doctoral Student at University of St Andrews

Elspeth Manders is a doctoral student at the University of St Andrews. Prior to this she obtained an MLitt in Sacred Music from the University of St Andrews, and a BA (Honours) in Music from the University of Oxford.