Academic journal article The Hymn

Research Director's Report

Academic journal article The Hymn

Research Director's Report

Article excerpt

It has been a year since I took up this work in the Executive Committee of The Hymn Society. It has been an exciting time of learning and growing as I work on administering the Emerging Scholars Forum. Personally speaking, it has been gratifying to work with and finally meet some of the scholars at the New Orleans Conference. Their presentations reminded me that there is much to be explored in congregational song. Indeed, music making is not only about the songs that are sung as there are other dimensions beyond the sonic experience. These include people - those who create and those who sing, their socio-cultural settings, as well as the theo-liturgical ethos that influence their practice of music. All of these elements continually shape this art form in Christian spirituality. This reality was clearly brought home as we look at the recent conference held at New Orleans with its distinctive offerings of jazz and a hymn festival on crisis and recovery that reminded participants of the trauma the locale suffered as a result of Hurricane Katrina (2005). Music speaks where words fail.

To that end, it is important that our Society continues to enlarge its boundaries to embrace various musical expressions following on its mandate of encouraging congregational song. Thus far, I believe we have done well in our effort to embrace non-Western hymnody. However, I think we can do better with other congregational song forms such as cantillated ritual music and contemporary worship songs.

In the last decade, the practice of congregational song has shifted. …

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