WORSHIP TEMPO & Today’s #SundayChurchHacks & The happiest tunes are slightly faster than your average song (the happiest tunes are between 140 – 150 beats per minute on average).

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/27/20.

I’ve written an article for Biblical Leadership Magazine about tempos of worship songs that inspire and foster celebration. And though research has confirmed that personal style of music is subjective, researchers have also found that it is songs in the tempos between 140 and 150 BPM (beats per minute) that are best for inspiring celebration and happiness.

Yet, Anglo churches that I have analyzed usually have one or none of their worship songs in these happy, celebratory tempos: tempos between 140 and 150 BPM (beats per minute)

So, look at your worship song list. And while contemplative, meditative and solemn songs are needed … so are songs in tempos between 140 and 150 BPM (beats per minute) that create a celebratory happiness in worship. Consider these Biblical admonitions:

Shout your praises to God, everybody!

Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,

Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,

Fill the air with praises to King God.

Psalm 98:4-6 MSG

On your feet now—applaud God!

    Bring a gift of laughter,

    sing yourselves into his presence.

Psalm 100: 1-2 MSG

So, how do you evaluate tempo if you are not a musician?

  • Simple online and smartphone applications will let you see tempo of any song.
  • If you find your worship team is trending toward slower, mostly stately songs (I have noticed this trend in my case-study research) then suggest songs of higher, happier tempos.
  • Don’t focus solely on uptempo songs, but be wary of musical sets that miss the celebration and happiness that comes from an encounter (Hebrew: worship) with God.

Here is a helpful chart of the most common tempo markings (with bpm) and definitions from the previous article:

    • Prestissimo (> 200 bpm) very very fast
    • Presto (168 – 200 bpm) very fast
    • Allegro (120 – 168 bpm) fast
    • Moderato (108 – 120 bpm) moderately
    • Andante (76 – 108 bpm) walking pace
    • Adagio (66 – 76 bpm) slow and stately
    • Lento/Largo (40 – 60 bpm) very slow
    • Grave (20-40 bpm) slow and solemn

For more details, see my full article for Biblical Leadership Magazine.