Winnipeg 2012, the Meeting Place: Sharing Our Song Hymn Society Annual Conference Report

Article excerpt

The Annual Conference 2012 drew in 227 persons from Canada, the U.SA., and two other countries, plus up to one hundred additional attendees at some of our evening festivals. Our thanks to all who worked so hard for the conference, from persons who helped with local arrangements, our speakers and workshop leaders, sponsors of workshops and events, to our intrepid Executive Director, Deborah Carlton Loftis. Additional photographs from the conference will be available on our website, www.thehymnsociety.org

Margaret Leask is the Canadian Books and Media Review Editor; Nancy Hall, Tina Schneider, and Fred Graham serve on the Editorial Advisory Board for The Hymn. Below each describes a day of the Conference; we hope it encourages you to join us next summer in Richmond, Virginia!

Sunday, July 15 - Margaret Leask

"Face to Face . . . A. Meeting Place"

Early arrivals at the Winnipeg Hymn Society Annual Conference boarded buses to Young United Church for a not-so-traditional opening organ recital. Lottie Enns-Braun, organist, and guest Allen Harrington, saxophone, mesmerized us with their program of J. S. Bach, Guy de Lioncourt, Naji Hakim, Frederick Hemke, Ruth Watson Henderson, and Shinji Inaga. The program closed with Dénis Bédard's "Variations sur 'Nous chanterons pour toi, Seigneur'" (OLD HUNDREDTH) with the audience singing, among the variations, "All people that on earth do dwell" from Voices United.

Winnipeggers met with The Hymn Society that evening at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church to launch our 9 Oth -anniversary conference with theologian Irma Fast Dueck and Canadian Mennonite leader of congregational song Marilyn Houser Hamm. We began by singing Marty Haugen's "Gather us in." Enthusiastic singing on a very warm Manitoba evening ensued. We sang hymns by Huub Oosterhuis and Brian Wren; listened to a reading of "Learning to Sing in Parts" by the Mennonite poet-hymnwriter Jean Janzen; and continued with hymns, spirituals and gospel songs by Charles A. Tindley, Delores Dufner, Per Harling ("You are holy" in English, French, and Spanish), Paul Gerhardt, and more, accompanied by an ensemble of strings, brass, woodwinds, guitar, percussion, and organ. To the bus driver's delight, en route home current Lovelace scholars and their cohorts started up a reprise of the Zulu "Sithi bonga" (with bongo).

Monday, July 16 Nancy Hall

Our first Morning Prayer of the week began Monday in good stead, with liturgical materials and music from a variety of sources. Chelsea Stern, former Lovelace Scholar, gathered fellow Scholars (past and present) to lead us in worship.

Those in attendance had been eagerly anticipating the opening plenary address by Alice Parker, FHS. In "Recognizing Our Songs: Musical and Poetic Validity," Parker first raised the question: "What's really going on when we sing?" She took us through the process of recognizing all the various experiences that take place as we move along in the river of song and then offered several lenses for judging our congregational songs. Parker's keen observations and thoughtful admonitions were enthusiastically received, providing an excellent beginning to a day for diving deeply into the conference experience.

The first sectional period of the day took me (Nancy) to "The Songs and Hymns of Avery and Marsh: A Retrospective," led by Hymn Society president-elect, John Ambrose, his spouse, Catherine, and their son, David. All who attended were delighted to have in our midst Richard "Dick" Avery himself, who shared some wonderful stories with us about more than forty years of collaboration with his partner in ministry and creative arts, Donald Marsh. The Ambroses led us through animated singing of such favorites as "Hey, hey, anybody listening?" "Hosanna, Hallelujah!" and "We are the church." The songs felt new and fresh once again, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to let Dick know how much his work has meant to us.

"Hymns Re-formed for Contemporary Worship: A Survey and Analysis of Recent Practices," was my choice for Sectional II. …