An Exploration of Lutheran Music-Making among US Immigrant and Refugee Populations


Allison Adrian

Document Type


Publication Date

March 2013


This study investigated how music, religion, and culture intersect in the lives of immigrants and recently resettled refugees in the United States. I collected data using ethnographic methodology in 20 different Lutheran congregations. Participant observations occurred at church services, choir rehearsals, funerals, weddings, and other special celebrations. One-to-one interviews were conducted with 35 adults who identified as Lutheran, were actively involved in music at their church, and were first- or second-generation immigrants or refugees. Outcomes demonstrated that the majority of participants used Lutheran music-making to negotiate the dynamic process of selectively acquiring elements from their new culture while also actively maintaining cultural practices from their homeland. While Christianity, especially under colonialism, frequently disrupted pre-existing musical traditions, in this contemporary postcolonial context, musicians found congregational- and choir-singing to be a cultural occupation capable of encompassing their emergent, multi-faceted identity in the US, thereby facilitating the adjustment process.