Call for Papers on Congregational Song
The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada invites current graduate students and those who have graduated within the past three years to submit proposals to present their research effort on congregational song during the Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, July 12 – 16, 2020.
Submissions are to be guided by the research parameters of Practice, Philosophy (Theology), History, and/or Context of congregational song.
Three such presentations, each strictly limited to fifteen minutes, with five minutes added for questions, will be featured during a sectional event identified as an Emerging Scholars Forum. Conference registration fees will be waived for the three presenters, and one research paper will be selected to win the Emerging Scholar prize of a $150 gift certificate redeemable at the conference bookstore at the annual gathering and consideration for publication in The Hymn.
Applicants should submit a 300-word abstract of the topic, along with complete contact information, including e-mail and postal address, and a letter of support from someone in a position to comment on the applicant’s scholarly qualifications.
Three applicants will be selected to present their work at the conference. They will be required to submit a final paper of no more than 6000 words (about 20 pages) by May 31, 2020, for judging by a committee consisting of the Director of Research, Editor of The Hymn journal, and up to three select members of the Society.
Send applications with the email message heading “Emerging Scholars Forum” by April 1, 2020 to:
Lim Swee Hong, Director of Research
The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada
Lim Swee Hong
Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto
75 Queen’s Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1K7
2019 Emerging Scholars Results
Congratulations to: Holly Farrow
Abstract: “A Baptist Theology of Worship and the Hymnody of Anne Steele”
This study will consider Anne Steele (1717-1778), a prominent and distinctive British Baptist hymn writer of the eighteenth century. A Particular Baptist and pastor’s daughter, Steele first began writing hymns as a devotional expression of her adoration of God, not intending that they be used publicly. She penned hymns that were “personal, introspective, and honest” and that posed many questions about the nature and essence of encountering God. Often regarded as the Baptist counterpart of Isaac Watts, Anne Steele became one of the most popular Baptist hymn writers of the eighteenth century; her hymns were published and acclaimed in her lifetime and appeared in various British and American collections well into the nineteenth century. To consider Anne Steele within the proper historical context I will draw upon the scholarship of Christopher Ellis. In his book Gathering: A Spirituality and Theology of Worship in Free Church Tradition, Ellis clearly establishes that historically, a Baptist theology of worship centered upon sincere devotion of the heart, the primacy of the Word, the community of believers, and the coming Kingdom of God. In this paper, I will show that the four theological themes of Ellis can be found and illustrated within the hymnody of Anne Steele. Included in this study will be a brief biographical sketch as well as a consideration of the historical and cultural context in which she carried out her vocation and fulfilled her Christian calling.
 Cynthia Y. Aalders, To Express the Ineffable: The Hymns and Spirituality of Anne Steele (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2008), xvii.
 Christopher J. Ellis, Gathering: A Theology and Spirituality of Worship in Free Church Tradition (London: SCM Press, 2004), vi.
2018 Emerging Scholars Results
Congratulations to: Adam Perez
Abstract: “Beyond the Guitar: The Keyboard as a Lens into the History of Contemporary Praise and Worship”
Recent musicological scholarship has centralized the guitar in the history of contemporary worship music. Since the Jesus People movement in the late 1960s, the guitar has been seen as the symbol of the folk and rock music that has constituted the backbone of culture and worship wars. This narrative has largely assumed the enduring centrality of the guitar in new forms of music for worship consistently that by 1999, Michael Hamilton wrote in Christianity Today of “The Triumph of the Praise Song: How Guitars Beat Out the Organ in the Worship Wars,” equating “Praise Song” with the guitar itself. Though the guitar is central to today’s top CCLI songs—and the use of the Organ seems to have waned—it is an overreach of historical method to say that the guitar alone has been the harbinger and sustainer of musical transformation. I suggest that the keyboard represents an important and independent cultural and musical contribution to changes in music for worship between the Jesus People of the late 1960s and the “British Invasion” of the 1990s.
This paper will explore the ways recent scholarship on the history of contemporary worship has overlooked the important role of the keyboard and develop an argument for a keyboard-centric strand within praise and worship that is unique and influential, namely that strand represented by the emergence of the widely popular Integrity’s Hosanna! Music in the mid- to late-1980s. Doing so provides a much-needed complexification of the accepted musical-worship narratives of transformations in the second half of the twentieth century.
 Though some scholars use these terms to attempt to denote genre distinctions, I use them interchangeably to represent the broad spectrum of repertoire.
 Michael S. Hamilton, “The Triumph of the Praise Song: How Guitars Beat Out the Organ in the Worship Wars,” Christianity Today 43, no. 8 (July 12, 1999): 28–35.
2017 Emerging Scholars Results
Congratulations to: Carl Bear & Sarah Kathleen Johnson
Abstract: “Medieval Hymns on Modern Lips: An Analysis of Medieval Texts and Tunes in 21st-Century Protestant Hymnals”
2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and while it is good to celebrate congregational song since the Reformation, there is also a danger, especially among Protestants, of forgetting the medieval heritage of Christianity. Often, Protestant depictions of ecclesial and liturgical history leap from the early church to the 16th century, ignoring or deliberately distancing present-day Protestants from the medieval period. Protestant hymnals, however, can reveal an alternative narrative.
This paper analyzes the 59 medieval texts and 18 medieval tunes contained in three significant Protestant hymnals published in the past decade: Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Glory to God, and Lift Up Your Hearts. Medieval texts and tunes—defined as originating in the millennium between 500 and 1500—are identified based on the citations given in the hymnals, which is the information most readily available to worshipers. This corpus of medieval texts and tunes is then analyzed through various lenses, including date and place of origin, authorship, the translation history of texts, musical genres, text-tune pairings, and topical categorization in the hymnals.
Key issues emerging from this content analysis are engaged. 1) These texts have been translated through processes of paraphrasing, abbreviating, and altering the original medieval words. At what point are we no longer singing medieval hymns? 2) Many medieval texts are attributed to significant figures. Are human connections as important as theological content? 3) The medieval sources of some hymns, particularly of tunes, are not always explicitly indicated in the hymnals. Does conscious awareness of medieval origins matter?
Church musicians and worship leaders can highlight the origins of medieval hymns in Protestant hymnals, as a way both to discourage Protestant worshipers from distancing themselves from their shared medieval heritage and to encourage congregations to embrace the riches of the medieval period.