Following from our centennial celebration in 2022, we will be conducting a third series of online interviews with Hymn Society leaders and persons of note during the coming year. All of them will be 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 on Mondays at 1:00 pm ET.
|September 18||Paul Westermeyer, FHS|
|October 23||Simei Monteiro, FHS|
|November 20||Robin Knowles Wallace, FHS|
|December 11||I-to Loh, FHS 駱維道|
|January 22||John Thornburg, FHS|
|February 12||Felicia Patton and Brittney Stephan|
|March 18||Robert Batastini, FHS|
|April 15||Jan Kraybill|
|May 13||Fred Graham, FHS|
Paul Westermeyer is a church musician and pastor with degrees from Elmhurst College, Lancaster Seminary, Union Seminary, and the University of Chicago. He is Emeritus Professor of Church Music at Luther Seminary where he also served as Cantor and directed the Master of Sacred Music degree program with St. Olaf College. Prior to coming to Luther he taught at Elmhurst College and Yale University. He has been the President of the Hymn Society, Editor of the Hymn, and Dean of the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. His writing includes Te Deum, The Church Musician, and the Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship. It reflects his life’s work, studying and teaching about church music and the role of the church musician. His most recent book is A High and Holy Calling: Essays of Encouragement for the Church and its Musicians.Watch the Recording
Simei Monteiro, born Simei Leão Ferreira de Barros, grew up in a family where music was present: her father particularly enjoyed opera, and her mother had extensive knowledge of hymnbooks; both sang in the Baptist Church choir in Belém, PA. Her uncle tuned pianos at the Theatro da Paz in Belém, and she accompanied him to concerts, occasionally playing on old pianos at his place. When she was 12 years old, the family moved to Rio de Janeiro.
Simei Monteiro studied literature, French, and Portuguese at university: Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), and then graduated in sacred music at the Baptist Seminary in Rio de Janeiro (STBSB). She developed a passion for hymnology, started translating hymns, and writing poems.
From 1972 to 1974, following her marriage to Jairo Monteiro (a Baptist pastor), she studied music and theology at the Instituto Superior Evangélico de Educación Teológica in Buenos Aires (ISEDET) with Pablo Sosa and Homerto Perera, among others.
Upon returning to Brazil, she was part of the group that published the first Brazilian hymnal, A Nova Canção (Methodist Publishing House, São Paulo). She became a professor of liturgy and hymnology at the School of Theology of the Methodist University of São Paulo. In 1985, she and her husband became Methodists.
Continuing her studies concurrently, she obtained a master’s degree in religious studies from a public university in São Paulo (UNESP). Her thesis was published in 1991 under the title O Cântico da Vida (The Song of Life).
One of her areas of interest is the ethics of copyright, its implications for creativity, innovation, and the sharing of resources such as songs, prayers, and liturgies within the ecumenical movement.
From 2001 until her retirement in 2009, she worked as a worship consultant for the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, Switzerland, as a missionary assigned by the United Methodist Church.
Simei Monteiro later worked on the Portuguese translation of hymns by Charles Wesley (1707-1788), a key figure in the Methodist movement. She adapted the texts to the Latin American context through a process of inculturation. Her hymnal Mil Vozes para Celebrar was published in 2019.Watch the Recording
Robin Knowles Wallace is a hymnological scholar, editor, teacher of congregational song, and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati; Scarritt College, Nashville; Candler School of Theology, Emory University; and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University. For twenty-four years Robin served on the faculty of Methodist Theological School in Ohio (Delaware, Ohio), where she was professor of worship and music.
Robin served as Resource Editor for The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts for eight years and on editorial boards for four different worship and music publications. She has served as editor of The Hymn: A Journal of Congregational Song from 2012 through 2023 (with the exception of 2-1/2 issues). Robin has published seven books, contributed to another fifteen books, three hymnal companions, and thirty journals. In 2021 she was named a Fellow of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.Watch the Recording
Born 1936 in Taiwan, received M.Div.(TTCS), SMM（UTS. NY）and Ph. D. (UCLA), a Fellow of the Hymn Society (FHS). He taught Asian and Global Church Music, Ethnomusicology and Worship at Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music, Manila and Tainan Theological College and Seminary, Taiwan(TTCS). He served as a leader and advisor to innumerable WCC and CCA General Assemblies and workshops. His publications include over three hundred hymns, anthems; he compiled over 23 collections of hymns, including Sound the Bamboo: CCA hymnal 2000 and its Companion Asian Hymns in Their Cultural and Liturgical Contexts (GIA 2011). He was the editor of Seng-si 2009, Official Hymnal of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, for which he is editing a Companion for 2023. He also published In Search for Asian Sounds and Symbols in Worship (CSCA, Singapore 2012). Retired from the presidency at TTCS in 2002, he was an itinerant professor in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and USA for over ten years. He returned to teach at TTCS again until his second retirement in 2020, when he was conferred an honorary D.D.Register Now
John Thornburg is a fourth generation United Methodist pastor, a poet, and a professional encourager. His grandfather, Amos, toured with Homer Rodeheaver and served on the editorial committee of the 1966 Methodist Hymnal.
After 22 years in parish ministry in North Texas, John pursued a new calling by starting an itinerant ministry of song leading and worship consultation called A Ministry of Congregational Singing. That ministry included eight years working with the United Methodists of Cameroon in the development of their first hymnal and worship book.
In addition to three published collections of his own work, John’s texts appear in 18 different hymnals, hymnal supplements, single author collections as well as octavos from six publishers. He has collaborated with over 25 composers. His articles on worship and congregational singing have appeared in a dozen journals, including THE HYMN.
John is a Past President and a Fellow of the Hymn Society.Register Now
Felicia Patton has been singing in gospel choirs for most of her life. After high school, she became a featured local soloist in the Chicago area, obtaining two graduate degrees from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary studying under Rev. Dr. Cynthia A. Wilson and Dr. Ruth Duck. Felicia’s voice has taken her around the continental United States singing gospel, soul, funk, jazz, and blues. She has been the lead singer of Chicago Soul Revue for more than eight years, as well as continuing her solo work in many different genres of music.
Currently, Felicia serves as Minister of Music and Contemporary Worship at Kingswood United Methodist Church in Buffalo Grove, Il and also gives vocal, guitar, and piano lessons through Muzicnet School of Music.
Brittney Stephan is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church and currently serves as the Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Noblesville, IN. Previously, she served in extension ministry as the Associate Director for Multi-Cultural Vibrancy for the Michigan Conference. She has received a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, Organizational Communication, and Peace & Conflict Studies from Butler University and a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary with a concentration in Liturgy & Music Across Cultures under the advisement of Drs. Cynthia A. Wilson and Ruth C. Duck.
She has spent the last decade living in Indianapolis, Detroit, and Chicago working in a variety of contexts for the Church. Much of her role consists of engaging individuals and teams alike to build our cultural proficiency in a way that moves us toward an anti-biased/anti-racist identity that seeks to diversify worship experiences and leadership as a collective whole.
Additionally, Brittney served in a cross-cultural ministry setting at the only historic African-American United Methodist Church on Chicago’s North Shore. She has spent time in Zimbabwe at Africa University, initiated a campus ministry at Butler University, and served as a youth leader for a number of years. These experiences have provided her with a deep passion to equip, engage, and empower individuals and teams to foster equitable communities of learning.Register Now
At Bob’s Catholic parish school, the students attended Mass every morning and sang the ordinary of the mass in Latin— his first experience of robust congregational song. He studied piano and organ, and as a high school freshman, became the parish organist—beginning a 68-year career as a pastoral musician. Being musically adventurous, in high school he explored most of the band instruments and entered DePaul University in 1959 as a music education major. After five semesters he “saw the light” and switched his major to church music. That turned out to be a poor choice, because that Catholic university was oblivious to Vatican II, and nothing in the curriculum ever reflected the undergoing reforms of the Church. Eventually DePaul discontinued both its sacred music program as well as organ instruction.
In 1967 Bob began a 40-year career as the senior editor of GIA Publications. He directed the publication of more than 20 hymnals, and was responsible for GIA becoming the publisher of many of today’s most respected hymn writers.Register Now
Jan Kraybill, DMA, FAGO, is a Grammy®-nominated concert artist, speaker, and advocate for the power of music to change lives for the better. She has performed as a soloist, collaborative musician, and hymn festival designer/leader across the U.S. and Canada, and in Australia, Europe, Russia, South Korea, and Tahiti. In Kansas City she is Organ Conservator at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Organist-in-Residence at Community of Christ headquarters, and organist at Village on Antioch Presbyterian Church. Jan has served in many roles in the American Guild of Organists, The Hymn Society, and the Master Teacher Institute, and was Executive Director of The Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada (2017-2018). In 2010 she achieved the highest certification level available for organists, becoming a Fellow of the AGO. Her fifth solo recording, The Orchestral Organ, released by Reference Recordings in 2019, was nominated for three Grammy awards, including Best Classical Instrumental Solo.Register Now
Fred Kimball Graham is Associate Professor (Emeritus) of Emmanuel College in the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto. There he founded and directed Canada’s only Master of Sacred Music program beginning in 2008. Following post-graduate studies in Berlin, Germany, he went on to graduate from the Eastman School of Music in Organ Performance, and later completed the PhD in Liturgical Theology at Drew University, Madison, NJ. His publication With One Heart and One Voice presents an analysis of 19th century Methodist hymnody (Scarecrow Press, 2004). In 2012, he was invited to collate the annotated and authorized version of the Revised Common Lectionary (Fortress). Fred is an active hymn-tune writer, with tunes appearing in “Glory to God”, “Voices United,” and “More Voices.” Honors include the Fellowship of the Hymn Society of the US and Canada (FHS) as well as the Distinguished Service Award of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. A resident of the Greater Toronto Area, he is licensed as a Lay Worship Leader in The United Church of Canada.Register Now
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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.
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.Watch the Recording
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.Watch the Recording
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:
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.Watch the Recording