Rev Assoc Prof Daniel Thornton

Rev Assoc Prof Daniel Thornton

Head of School, Pathways, Arts, and Business

Daniel Thornton is Head of the School of Pathways, Arts and Business, and a member of Academic Board. His postgraduate studies were in music and theology, and his research output includes the 2021 book, Meaning-Making in the Contemporary Congregational Song Genre. He has recorded/produced over 15 albums of original songs and his orchestral works have been performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and other prestigious ensembles.

Daniel is an ordained minister with the Australian Christian Churches and has served as worship pastor/associate pastor at several churches, including Futures Church, LifeSource Christian Church, IN Church, and C3 Mount Annan. He has recorded and produced worship albums including Christmas Presence, For Worshipers, from Worshipers, Daniel|Piano|Worship Classics 2, It is Well - Instrumentals (2011), Worship Classics (2010), One Heart (2009), Worship Always (2009), Paradise(2008), It is Well - Vol 2(2007), It is Well - Vol 1(2006), among others. Daniel has also performed a starring role in the Off-Broadway premiere of "Angels" at the Duke Theatre in New York, as well starring roles in Godspell, !Hero, The Prodigal, and other musical theatre productions.

Daniel is a member of the Pentecostal Studies and Pastoral Theology and Ministry research clusters.


L.Mus.A. (Theory) (Australian Music Examinations Board) 1994

Performer’s Certificate (Piano) (Trinity College of Music London) 1991

PhD (Macquarie University)
Dissertation Title Exploring the Contemporary Congregational Song Genre: Texts, Practice, and Industry 2016

M.Music Tech (Distinction) (University of Newcastle) 2012

B.Mus (Composition) (inc) (Sydney Conservatorium of Music) 1991

Research Interests

Popular Music Studies, Musicology, Theomusicology

Music and Worship in the context of the contemporary church

Field of Research



  • 2021
    • Thornton, D (2021). Meaning-Making in the Contemporary Congregational Song Genre. Palgrave Macmillan. | External link

Book Chapters

  • 2021
    • Thornton, D. (2021). Music In Adam Possamai & Anthony J. Blasi (Eds), The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion (pp. ). SAGE Publications. | External link
  • 2020
    • Thornton, D (2020). A Match Made in Heaven: Why Popular Music is Central to the Growth in Pentecostal Charismatic Christianities In Rocha, C., Hutchinson, M., and Openshaw, K. (Eds.), Australian Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements: Arguments from the Margins (pp. 109-125). Brill.
  • 2018
    • Thornton, D (2018). Preaching and Worship In White, A. (Ed), The Power of a Good Story: Five Views on Pentecostal Preaching (pp. ). CTP Press.
  • 2015
    • Thornton, D., Evans, M. (2015). YouTube: a new mediator of Christian worship In Nekola, A. and Wager, T. (Eds.), Singing a New Song: Christian Congregational Music Making and Community in a Mediated Age (pp. 141-159). Ashgate Publishing.

Journal Articles

  • 2024
    • Toh, H. L. and Thornton, D (2024). Understanding “Love” in the English Lyrics of the Original Songs by the Multilingual New Creation Church Singapore. Religions, 15(5) 603. | External link
  • 2023
    • Thornton, D (2023). “This Is No Performance”: Exploring the Complicated Relationship between the Church and Contemporary Congregational Songs. Religions, 14(5) 578. | External link
  • 2021
    • Thornton, D. (2021). How YouTube Mediations of Global Contemporary Congregational Songs Contribute to an Understanding of the Genre. Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture, 10 445-466. | External link | AC Link
    • Thornton, D (2021). A “Sloppy Wet Kiss”? Intralingual Translation and Meaning-Making in Contemporary Congregational Songs. Religions, 12 (10). | External link
  • 2019
    • Thornton, D (2019). Star Wars Soundtracks: The Worship Music of John Williams. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Star Wars Special Edition.
  • 2017
    • Thornton, D (2017). On Hillsong’s continued reign over the Australian contemporary congregational song genre. Perfect Beat, 17 (2) 164-182. | External link | AC Link
  • 2015
    • Thornton, D (2015). A lament for Pentecostal scholarship in contemporary congregational songs. Australasian Pentecostal Studies, 17. | External link

Internal and External Grants

  • 2023
    • Conference Funding, $2000, AC


  • 2019
    • Beyond the congregation: An analysis of the current global contemporary congregational song genre (2019), Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives Conference, Oxford, UK, 09 Aug 2019
    • Divine and human qualities of global contemporary congregational songs (2019), Sounds of Heaven and Earth: Divine and Human Action in Christian Musical Worship Conference, London, UK, 04 Aug 2019
  • 2018
    • Worship in the Charts: How Contemporary Congregational Songs Engage the Secular Music Market (2018), Media, Religion, and Public Scholarship, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA, 10 Aug 2018
    • Defining a ‘Sacrifice of Praise’ in the Contemporary Worship Context (2018), ANZATS, Brisbane, Australia, 03 Jul 2018
  • 2017
    • Generic Christianity: An exploration of contemporary congregational song lyrics and the global adoption of popular songs (2017), Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives, Cuddesdon, UK, 20 Jul 2017
    • Personal Jesus: Understanding contemporary congregational songs through the 'Magesteria-Ibiza Spectrum' (2017), Integrating Theology & Contemporary Worship, London School of Theology, London, UK, 17 Jul 2017
    • It’s the end of the world as we know it: How authenticity and eschatology cohere in contemporary congregational song (2017), Apocalypse and Authenticity, University of Hull, Hull, UK, 12 Jul 2017
  • 2016
    • At the nexus of Christian education, music, and young people (2016), DNA of Christian Schooling, Mackay, QLD, 24 Aug 2016
    • The rise and rise of global contemporary congregational songs (2016), International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture Conference, Seoul, Korea, 03 Aug 2016
    • Stop Calling it ‘Praise and Worship’! A Plea for a New Nomenclature (2016), Alphacrucis College, 03 May 2016
    • Popular Music and Pentecostal Worship: A Match Made in Heaven? (2016), Society of Pentecostal Studies Conference, San Dimas, CA, USA, 11 Mar 2016
  • 2015
    • Ambivalent fame: Insights from the most sung composers of contemporary congregational songs (2015), Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives, Oxford, UK, 06 Aug 2015
    • Pentecostals, popular worship, and personal preferences (2015), Fandom and Religion Conference, Leicester, UK, 29 Jul 2015
  • 2014
    • Contemporary Congregational Songs, YouTube and virtual Christian Communities (2014), International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture Conference, Canterbury, UK, 06 Aug 2014
    • What we sing: a theomusicological exploration (2014), Alphacrucis College, 04 Mar 2014
  • 2013
    • Considerations leading to the implementation of Australia's first online delivery for the Certificate IV in Music (2013), XIX National ASME Conference, Canberra, ACT, Australia, 01 Oct 2013

Engagement Publications

Creative Production or Compositions

Popular Articles

  • 2020
    • Thornton, D (2020). What on earth are we singing? 2019 report gives snapshot. Eternity News, . | External link
    • Thornton, D (2020). The Four Song Categories in Worship. Crucis, . | External link
  • 2019
    • Thornton, D (2019). Worship Snapshot – April 2018 (Australia). , . | External link
  • 2018
    • Thornton, D. (2018). What On Earth Are We Singing? A Series On The Contemporary Congregational Song – Part 7. Crucis, . | External link
  • 2017

Professional Memberships

APRA/AMCOS Full writers member (since 2000)

CCLI Asia Pacific Advisory Council member (since 2009)

CCLI Writer/Publisher member (since 1992)

Musicological Society of Australia (since 2020)

Current Supervision

  • Current
    • Toh, L, Sung Theology: A Comparative Textual Analysis of the Original Song Lyrics of New Creation Church, Singapore, and Those of Hillsong Church, Australia (PhD thesis)

Completed Supervision

  • 2016
    • Harvey Neale, An Exploration of the Spirituality of Generation Y Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians (Masters Project/Thesis)

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