Rev. Dr. Daniel Thornton

Rev. Dr. Daniel Thornton

Head of Worship; Master of Leadership Program Director; Director of CLASS

Daniel Thornton: accomplished and awarded songwriter, musician and worship leader, sought-after minister and educator.  He is one of the world's leading scholars on contemporary congregational songs.  He is Head of Worship, Master of Leadership Program Director, and Director of CLASS (Centre for Learning And Scholarship Skills) at Alphacrucis College, and serves local churches and their worship teams around the globe as well as being engaged as a professional composer and performer.
Before coming to Alphacrucis College, Daniel served as the Music Pastor at Influencers Church (Adelaide, South Australia) and previously as the Worship and Associate Pastor at LifeSource Christian Church in Sydney Australia.
He records and produces Worship albums including Christmas Presence, For Worshipers, from Worshipers, Daniel|Piano|Worship Classics 2, It is Well - Instrumentals (2011)Worship Classics (2010), Above All Else (2010), One Heart (2009), Worship Always (2009), Paradise(2008), It is Well - Vol 2(2007), It is Well - Vol 1(2006), Beyond Words (2004), and many more. These recordings/performances have been featured on TV programs from LifeSource, Influencers, and Daystar.
His songs are sung in churches around the world including “Father”, “Come into the House” and “Presence Beautiful”. Daniel’s passion is to connect people with God and see the church fulfill its God-ordained potential.
Daniel has performed a starring role on in an Off-Broadway premiere at the Duke Theatre on 42nd Street, New York of the new musical "Angels".  His starring roles in musical theatre productions also include, Godspell, !Hero and The Prodigal.
Six years at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and a music scholarship to London provided much of Daniel's formal training. During that time, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and other prestigious ensembles performed his compositions. After completing his studies, Daniel was appointed Music Director for Penrith Christian Fellowship Centre, then Penrith City Church and later Worship Pastor at C3 Mt Annan.
Daniel is an ordained minister with the Australian Christian Churches.  His formal qualifications include PhD., Master of Music Technology (Distinction), A.Arts (Religious Studies), L.Mus.A. (Theory), Performers Certificate T.C.L. (Piano) and a Cert IV Training and Assessment.
He has owned and run two private music schools, and also lectured for many years at a number of colleges including Hillsong College and the Paradise College of Ministry.
Daniel and his wife Kris have been married for 26yrs and have 3 adult children.


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

A.Arts in Religious Studies (Global University) 2002

Certificate IV - TAE40116 (HBA Learning Centres) 2018

Research Interests

Online Education

Online Music Education

Popular Music Studies, Musicology, Theomusicology

Music and Worship in the context of the contemporary church

Field of Research

  • 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
  • 2204 Religion and Religious Studies

Book Chapter

  • 2020
    • Thornton, D (2020). Music In Adam Possamai & Anthony J. Blasi (Eds), The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion (pp. ). SAGE Publications, Inc. | External link
    • 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 Article

  • 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 Journal, 17. | Link to journal
  • 2014
    • Thornton, D. (2014). What on earth are we singing? A series on the contemporary congregational song Part 5. Worship Leader Magazine, . | External link
    • Thornton, D. (2014). What on earth are we singing? A series on the contemporary congregational song Part 4. Worship Leader Magazine, . | External link
    • Thornton, D. (2014). What on earth are we singing? A series on the contemporary congregational song Part 3. , . | External link
    • Thornton, D. (2014). What on earth are we singing? A series on the contemporary congregational song.. , . | External link
    • Thornton, D. (2014). What on earth are we singing? A series on the contemporary congregational song Part 2. , . | External link


Academic Conference

  • 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
    • Defining a ‘Sacrifice of Praise’ in the Contemporary Worship Context (2018), ANZATS, Brisbane, Australia, 03 Jul 2018
  • 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
    • 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
  • 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

Scholarship Publications

Creative Production or Composition

Popular Article

  • 2020
    • Thornton, D (2020). The Four Song Categories in Worship. Crucis, . | Link to journal
    • Thornton, D (2020). What on earth are we singing? 2019 report gives snapshot. Eternity News, . | Link to journal
  • 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, . | Link to journal
  • 2017

Professional Memberships

APRA/AMCOS Full writers member (since 2000)

CCLI Asia Pacific Advisory Council member (since 2009)

CCLI Writer/Publisher member (since 1992)

Current Supervision

  • None
    • Dragan, K., The Heartbeat of Pentecostalism: Exploring the Liturgical, Spiritual and Theological Significance of Drumming in Pentecostal Worship (Masters Project/Thesis)

Completed Supervision

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

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