How the sound of religion has changed in the pandemic

<span class="caption">The Rev. Philip Dinwiddie sings to a pre-recording of mass at St. James Episcopal Church in Grosse Ile, Michigan.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Gregory Shamus/Getty Images">Gregory Shamus/Getty Images</a></span>
The Rev. Philip Dinwiddie sings to a pre-recording of mass at St. James Episcopal Church in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Things sound different in a lockdown. The silence of usually bustling streets, the two-tone whirr of ambulance sirens and the sudden awareness of birdsong, all formed an aural backdrop to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nowhere has the change in sound been more noticeable than at houses of worship. The voices of congregants praying, chanting and singing has been quietened in churches, mosques and temples. Instead, congregants have had to work in new acoustic settings, both in person and online.

In short, religion, too, sounds different during the pandemic. We know this, because we have been documenting the sounds of religious life in America. Over the last six years, our teams of faculty and student researchers at Michigan State University and The Ohio State University have cataloged hundreds of audio

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