“…sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5.19, 20)
In much the way that the Bible is not one book, but rather a collection of many books written over many centuries, reflecting different understandings and experiences of God, so too are our hymnals a collection of many different texts and tunes spanning the early church up to the present moment. This incredible window into the rich and diverse Christian experience can tell us about how our spiritual forebears addressed and reacted to the concerns and issues of their times, reflective of the context in which they were written. This course will examine some of our best-loved hymn texts, as well as look at the broader tradition of western hymnody as a whole. Attention will also be given to the way different pairings of hymn tunes can affect the way one experiences a given hymn.
Led by Benjamin Straley.
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SESSION ONE: February 8
An overview of Christian hymnody: from Scriptural sources to the current day. What is a hymn, exactly? What role do they play in liturgy? Can they act as a hermeneutic, or a homiletical tool that is its own scriptural and liturgical commentary on the lessons and feast being celebrated? We will also touch upon the intersection of music and theology, and music as theology.
SESSION TWO: February 22
Hymns as Poetry. Examining texts of Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, Cowper, Phillips Brooks, Carl P. Daw, and Erik Routley – how they act upon our heart and mind and will, and what that does in the context of liturgical celebration.
SESSION THREE: March 8
Hymns Ancient & Modern (1861 and 1875). We will examine the profound influence of this hymnal on both the global Anglican Communion as well as every other hymnal for other denominations since. This hymnal was as influential on English-speaking hymnody as the Book of Common Prayer was on the English language.
SESSION FOUR: March 22
What’s in a tune? We will address the fact that a hymn is a text, and can have any number of tunes. In this session, we will sing texts to various tunes, and see how that changes or alters the way we experience and perceive the hymn text.
SESSION FIVE: April 5
Congregation hymn sing open to all with reception to follow.
- January 1, 1970 |