From and To the Ends of the Earth

Attendees from Beijing to Cork County, Ireland, and every time zone in the U.S. gathered from 8:45 to noon (Central Time!) June 7-18 for the Bi-Annual “Congregational Song” course offered
jointly by the Church Music Institute and Brite Divinity School. Convened by Dr. Charlotte Kroeker, guest lecturers represented areas of specialty in the long history and practice of congregational singing, anchored by a new text, The Congregation Sings: A Biblical Mandate by
Dr. Robert Mann, to be released by GIA Publications in Fall, 2021. Rev. Dr. Michael Joncas of
the University of St. Thomas unearthed Biblical origins of song from ancient times and
foundational for singing that persists in practice today. Rev. Dr. Paul Westermeyer opened the
dramatic changes in singing brought by the Reformation. Dr. James Abbington of Emory
University covered the influences of Watts, English hymnody, and African American music as
they found their way into American religious song. Dr. Don Saliers brought to life the tunes and
texts of the Evangelical Revival and Wesleyan hymnody as they have shaped congregational
singing. Dr. Zebulon Highben of Duke University Chapel and Dr. Mary Louise Bringle of
Brevard College, both current hymn writers, brought historic trends and practice into focus with
current issues as contemporary worshippers seek to “sing a new song” faithfully.

Not only were the lecturers stimulating and interesting, but the attendees brought their own
perspectives and learning to each other. From experienced clergy to young seminarians, from
seasoned musicians to recent graduates, from clergy and musicians serving more traditional
congregations to those in very different circumstances – all had much to contribute to the
conversation and to each other.

While another “Congregational Song” course will not be offered until 2023, watch for
information on “Music in Christian Worship,” a foundational course in the theology and practice
of music in worship, slated for Summer, 2022