100 Years of Song: Second Series

As we continue to celebrate The Hymn Society’s one hundredth anniversary, we will be offering a second series of monthly online interviews, “100 Years of Song,” beginning in September. We will feature nine more Hymn Society leaders speaking about their own stories and interest in congregational song, their experience in and service to The Hymn Society, the contributions of our organization and our members to singing communities, and issues that are facing us today.

Each interview will be made available for free as a real-time Zoom webinar, but registration will be required to view the live broadcast. The interviews will also be archived on The Hymn Society website where anyone may view them on demand. All broadcasts will take place at 1:00 p.m. ET.

September 19 C. Michael Hawn, FHS
November 21 Debbie Lou Ludolph
December 19 Deborah Carlton Loftis, FHS
January 23 Paul Richardson, FHS
February 13 Alice Parker, FHS
February 27 Jorge Lockward
March 20 Mark Miller
April 17 Dan Damon, FHS, and Eileen Johnson
May 15 Delores Dufner, OSB, FHS
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September 19: C. Michael Hawn, FHS

Michael Hawn is the University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, where he has served since 1992. He has directed the Doctor of Pastoral Music degree program at the University since 2016. Before this, he was on the faculties of two Southern Baptist Seminaries for fifteen years and served congregations as a church musician in Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. He has been a sectional presenter, hymn festival leader, and plenary speaker for The Hymn Society at annual conferences and has contributed frequently to The Hymn. He was elected a Fellow of The Hymn Society in 2008. His most recent book is Sing with Understanding: Introduction to Theology in Congregational Song, 3rd Edition (GIA Publications, 2022) with contributors Martin V. Clarke, Beverly A. Howard, and Geoffrey C. Moore.

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November 21: Debbie Lou Ludolph

Debbie Lou Ludolph, Dean of Chapel and Director of the Kanata Centre for Worship and Global Song at Martin Luther University College in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, crafts worship, leads song, and creates song and art events in a multi-faith, multi-cultural context. She teaches courses in practical theology and in leading congregational and community singing. Recently completing a dissertation that explores how singing together shapes worldview, Debbie Lou’s story emerges from a passion for singing (including performing and teaching singing), a lifetime in the church (including being Director of Worship, Eastern Synod, ELCIC), interacting with Hymn Society, Music that Makes Community, and Community Music organizations, and learning with the singing community called Inshallah at Luther, which began under her leadership in 2007. Inshallah’s story, told through a published songbook Sing the Circle Wide (2016), is deeply influenced by the inspiration and scholarship of Hymn Society members. 

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December 19: Deborah Carlton Loftis, FHS

Deborah Carlton Loftis served as Executive Director of The Hymn Society from 2009-2017.  Prior to that she was professor of church music at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (VA).  Before moving to Richmond, she was minister of music and associate pastor in churches in Kentucky and Alabama. 

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January 23: Paul Richardson, FHS

Paul A. Richardson is the author of The Hymn Society, 1922-2021: A Calling and a Community, as well as a Past President and a Fellow of the Society.

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February 13: Alice Parker, FHS

Composer, conductor, and teacher Alice Parker was born in Boston in 1925. She began composing early and wrote her first orchestral score while still in high school. Parker graduated from Smith College with a major in music performance and composition and then received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied choral conducting with Robert Shaw.

She has authored five operas, eleven song-cycles, thirty-three cantatas, eleven works for chorus and orchestra, forty-seven choral suites, and more than forty hymns, all original compositions. Also to be noted are a wealth of arrangements based on pre-existing folk-songs and hymns, many of which were produced in collaboration with Robert Shaw. Parker is best known for these kinds of arrangements of spirituals, mountain hymns, and folk songs, early-American hymns, and international folk-songs, most notably in French, Spanish, Hebrew, and Ladino.

Now a resident of western Massachusetts, Parker has published books on melodic styles, choral improvisation, and Good Singing in Church. Five videos show her work with hymns and folk songs. She is the recipient of four honorary doctorates and the Smith College Medal. She was named a Fellow of The Hymn Society in 2000.

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February 27: Jorge Lockward

Jorge Lockward served for many years as Director of the Global Praise Program of the General Board of Global Ministries where he edited  resources on global music and worship. As part of that work he developed innovative ways to plan and engage  worship that responds to the opportunities and challenges of today’s world while engaging the depth of Christian tradition in its multiple global manifestations.

He has coordinated the worship life of many national and international gatherings, including the 21st. World Methodist Conference (2016) and the 2018 World Mission Conference in Arusha, Tanzania.

A respected lecturer and workshop leader, Jorge is a life-member of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada.
Jorge serves as Minister of Worship Arts at The Church of the Village in New York City and is Worship Consultant for Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
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March 20: Mark Miller

Mark Miller is Professor of Church Music, Director of Chapel, and Composer In Residence at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and is the Minister of Music of Christ Church (UCC & American Baptist) in Summit, New Jersey. He is also a Lecturer in Sacred Music at Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music and Divinity School where he co-teaches an organ course and directs the Gospel Choir.

Mark is a graduate of Julliard (M.Mus. in Organ Performance) and Yale University (B.A. Music) and was Assistant Organist and Music Associate at The Riverside Church from 1999-2001 and Director of Contemporary Worship at Marble Collegiate Church from 2002-2007, both in the city of New York.

His hymns and anthems are sung by communities of faith throughout the world. His songbook Roll Down Justice! Sacred Songs & Social Justice was published in 2014 by Choristers Guild, and his most recent congregational songs are available through GIA Publications. His album, Imagine the People of God, is available on iTunes.

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April 17: Dan Damon, FHS, and Eileen Johnson

Dan Damon, FHS, is an internationally published writer of hymn texts and tunes whose work appears in many current hymnals and supplements. He is Associate Editor of Hymnody for Hope Publishing Company. Damon is a retired elder in the United Methodist Church; he is also a jazz pianist and plays regularly at Lara’s Fine Dining in Richmond, CA. In 2016 Damon was named a Fellow of The Hymn Society.

Eileen M. Johnson, CAGO, is a United Methodist deacon currently serving as Minister of Music and Worship at El Sobrante United Methodist Church, El Sobrante, CA. Johnson is a former Executive Committee member of The Hymn Society. She was on the editorial team for the hymnal supplement Spirit Anew: Singing Prayer and Praise. Both Damon and Johnson have contributed to The Hymn and have co-authored articles in the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology.

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May 15: Delores Dufner, OSB, FHS

Delores Dufner is a member of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota. Her hymns have been published in Christian hymnals in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and China. She has received sixty-four commissions to write hymn lyrics for special occasions, and her texts are the basis of over eighty choral octavos. She has four published hymn collections:

  • Sing a New Church, 48 hymns (Oregon Catholic Press, 1994)
  • The Glimmer of Glory in Song, 79 hymns (GIA Publications, 2004)
  • And Every Breath, a Song, 72 hymns (GIA Publications, 2011)
  • Criers of Splendor, 50 hymns (GIA Publications, 2016)

In 2013 she was named a Fellow of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. In 2014 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from NPM, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. In 2017 she received the Christus Rex award from Valparaiso University’s Institute of Liturgical Studies for her commitment to liturgical renewal.

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Series I: Lim Swee Hong

Lim, Swee Hong is the Deer Park Associate Professor for Sacred Music at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto, and Director of the Master of Sacred Music program.

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Series I: Mary Louise Bringle, FHS

Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle is Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and coordinator of the Integrated Studies major at Brevard College in Brevard, NC.  Her original hymn texts and translations are included in two single-author collections out of GIA, as well as in hymnals and supplements of numerous denominations in North America and Scotland.  She has served as President of The Hymn Society and chair of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song, responsible for creating the 2013 PCUSA hymnal Glory to God. In the summer of 2020, she was named a Fellow of the Hymn Society.

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Series I: James Abbington, FHS

Born in Gary, West Virginia, Abbington received his musical education at Morehouse College (BA) and the University of Michigan (MMus, DMA). He is Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta and Executive Editor of the African American Church Music Series published by GIA Publications (Chicago). Abbington was recently re-appointed National Director of Music and Worship Arts of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. and is Director of Music Ministries and Church Organist of the Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta.

He was chairman of the Core Committee and Music Editor of One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: An African American Ecumenical Hymnal whose advisory committee consisted of music directors from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Church of God in Christ, Black Episcopalian Church, United Church of Christ (Congregational), Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), and Seventh-day Adventists.


He is the author of numerous books, articles, and choral recordings of African-American sacred music published by GIA Publications, Chicago.

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Series I: John Ambrose, FHS

Rev. Dr. John Ambrose has been in ministry with the United Church of Canada for 60 years, serving congregations in Western Canada and Southern Ontario. He is a graduate of Carleton University (B.A.), University of Toronto (M. DIV.), University of Notre Dame (M.A., Liturgical Studies). He has been honoured with a Doctorate of Divinity (D.D.) from Emmanuel College, a Queen’s Jubilee Award for community service,  and made a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.

In recent years he has served as the Editor of Voices United, President of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and Chair of the Board of Directors of the United Church’s denominational publication. He lives in Mississauga with his wife, Catherine. They have two adult children, three grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

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Series I: Carl P. Daw, Jr., FHS

Carl P. Daw, Jr., FHS, served as Executive Director of The Hymn Society from 1996 to 2009, while the headquarters were at Boston University School of Theology. He taught hymnology and other courses there through 2019 and remains as Curator of Hymnological Collections. In 2018 and 2019 he was also a Lecturer in Sacred Music at Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music.

He began writing hymns for The Hymnal 1982, and his texts now appear world-wide in most English-language hymnals and have been translated into six languages. Hope Publishing Co. has published five of his hymn collections and the first two volumes of his psalm paraphrases.

He was made a Fellow of The Hymn Society in 2007 and of the Royal School of Church Music (U.K.) in 2011; he holds honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary (2009) and the University of the South (2012). An Episcopal priest, he has served parishes in Virginia, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, and taught in the English Department of the College of William and Mary before entering seminary.

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Series I: Slats Toole

Slats Toole is a musician, writer, educator, preacher, and theater director/sound designer based in Minneapolis, MN. They are an active member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and have had formative experiences in Baptist (CBF and Alliance), United Methodist, Episcopal, and Reformed churches. They hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and a Master of Divinity and Certificate in Theology, Women and Gender from Princeton Theological Seminary. They are a proud Deborah Carlton Loftis Ambassador for the Center for Congregational Song, and are the resident sound designer for the In[heir]itance Project. Slats’ Lenten poetry series has been compiled in the collection Queering Lent, and their work has also been published in History of Hymns, Call to Worship, Sacramental Life, and The Presbyterian Outlook. They have been a featured guest artist with A Sanctified Art, and serve on the “Friends of NEXT Church” team. Slats has led workshops on expansive language and queer theology (with a particular emphasis on gender identity) throughout the United States and Canada. Slats’ work centers around creating space in the church where all are welcomed, embraced, and loved.

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Series I: Cynthia Wilson

Rev. Dr. Cynthia A. Wilson is an ordained deacon serving as Executive Director of Worship Resources at The United Methodist Discipleship Ministries agency supervising and guiding staff in the process of developing resources and training events with a primary focus on music, liturgy, and preaching. Previously, Dr. Wilson served as Assistant Vice-President of Student Life and Dean of Students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. There she launched the Center for Music and Worship in the Black Church Experience, an institute that provides training in the sacred music of the Black Church and beyond for musicians and worship leaders.

A talented vocalist, Dr. Wilson is a Grammy nominee, was noted the “Best Female Vocalist” at the Gospel Choice Awards held in Atlanta, GA (1998), has toured internationally, and, in 2000, served as the first female and first African American Director of Music at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from Dillard University, a Master of Sacred Music degree from Perkins School of Theology/ SMU, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Liturgical Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

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Series I: David Music, FHS

David W. Music is Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Baylor University. He previously served on the music faculties of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and California Baptist College. He received a BA in Music from California Baptist College (1970) and the MCM and DMA degrees from Southwestern Seminary (1973, 1977).

Music served as Editor of The Hymn (1990-1996) and was named a Fellow in 2010. He was a committee chair for two different hymnal projects, Baptist Hymnal (1991) and Celebrating Grace (2010).

Dr. Music is the author of Hymnology: A Collection of Source Readings, Christian Hymnody in Twentieth-Century Britain and America, and Repeat the Sounding Joy: Reflections on Hymns by Isaac Watts, as well as several co-authored volumes. He has also edited four volumes of music by American and Baroque composers. His articles have appeared in American Music, Bach, Choral Journal, Current Musicology, The Hymn, Journal of Musicological Research, Journal of the Society for American Music, and other periodicals.

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Series I: Emily Brink, FHS

Emily R. Brink (b. 1940) often speaks of her life “before and after” joining the Hymn Society. Her first career was in teaching, with music degrees from Calvin University, the University of Michigan, and Northwestern University (Ph.D. in Music Theory); she taught in Montana, New York, and Illinois before moving to Grand Rapids, MI in 1983 to become editor for the Psalter Hymnal (1987) of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) and immediately joining the Hymn Society. For 20 years she was music and liturgy editor for the CRC, and then joined the staff of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) at Calvin University where she became program director for the annual and increasingly international Symposium on Worship. She was founding editor of the quarterly Reformed Worship, eventually served as editor for four hymnals, and traveled widely as a worship and church music consultant, also in several Asian countries. For the Hymn Society she served on the executive committee, became the first woman president, and was named a Fellow in 2004.  In retirement she continues to enjoy planning and leading hymn festivals.

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