Church sound equipment can do more than spread the gospel during the holidays; it can help inspire joy and deeper connections throughout the congregation. We witness this mood-music connection every time we put on our favorite tunes to motivate, energize, focus, and heal ourselves. Science backs this up, too, regularly showing how moods and emotions are uplifted by music.
This feeling of joy — and the desire for it — becomes even more important during the holidays as worshipers seek to connect more deeply with their community and count their blessings with even more gratitude. The right audio equipment and sound design can help houses of worship achieve this by enhancing the quality of the music and delivering it to every worshiper throughout the space.
Neuroscientist, opera singer, and author of the book "How Music Makes You Better" Indre Viskontas said in an interview with PBS that people's autonomic nervous systems tend to synchronize with music to the extent that "music can be very calming, and in fact, it's surprising that you can listen to music before surgery and actually need less sedative" as a result of fewer stress hormones being released.
This effect is backed up by numerous studies that find listening to music can release endorphins and create an upbeat mood. It also uplifts the limbic system, responsible for moods and emotions, and the autonomic nervous system, which controls blood pressure and heartbeat.
The themes that play such a central role in most holiday music — home, family, celebration, generosity, wonder, and hope — also help evoke joy. Since holiday songs often harken back to the happiest moments of childhood, nostalgia becomes baked into them. That's why "you may involuntarily turn to mush when you hear 'White Christmas' because your brain associates that song with baking cookies in grandma's kitchen when you were 6," notes the Washington Post. In the same article, research from Berkeley musicologist Dr. Joe Bennett found that certain words, such as "home," "snow," and "love" add to the effect, as do sounds of sleigh bells.
Bennett also points out how important sound quality becomes to effectively deliver these experiences to today's audiences, who have high audio expectations. Pointing to a modern album of traditional Christmas music by Michael Bublé, he notes that people can "have all of the sound quality they expect in a modern recording from a contemporary artist while getting all the nostalgic feelings that we want from the songwriter." It's a powerful lesson for houses of worship.
Music can also help listeners connect more deeply to spiritual content and the sense of community houses of worship foster. Stanford University's Center for Computer Research on Music and Acoustics has conducted leading research in the space, highlighting that sounds and music can help transform brain states, shift moods, and bring listeners more deeply into spiritual or mystical experiences.
First Baptist Church of Merritt Island, Florida, recognized the connection and sought to deepen the engagement with its congregation through sound. The church chose a system built around ArenaMatch loudspeakers that the pastor says, "delivers exceptional quality and helps our parishioners really participate during services." When everyone can clearly hear the music that's played, they can get the full benefit of the emotional and spiritual experience throughout services.
SouthCrest Church in Newnan, Georgia, also recognized how critical it is to have smooth, professional sounds in both their worship music and spoken-word programs. They chose a system built on products from the ShowMatch DeltaQ line of loudspeakers for nominal coverage and field-changeable waveguides, adding a ShowMatch SMS118 subwoofer to deepen the low frequencies and balance out the sound.
"I believe in presentation; the most important thing we can do when we bring people together is experience the presence of God," says the pastor of Connect Church, where Bose installed AMM multipurpose loudspeakers. "I believe how we present His word, and ensure it can be heard and understood clearly, helps people understand who God is."
Throughout the holiday season and beyond, music can be a powerful conduit for transmitting joy to a worship community. Investing in the right church sound equipment and preparing church audio equipment for the holidays ensures that a solid technical foundation supports the sounds that can achieve this. When joy is elevated higher than ever thanks to the audio upgrade, it lasts longer, warming worshipers through the winter.