Six persons have been honored as Fellows of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada for outstanding leadership and significant contributions in encouraging, promoting, and enlivening congregational song. The new Fellows were recognized on July 19 during the organization’s recent Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. This year’s conference, “Sing the World God Imagines,” celebrated The Hymn Society’s one hundredth anniversary and included participants from twelve nations on six continents.
In his remarks, outgoing Hymn Society President Benjamin Brody noted, that “the contributions these colleagues have made to our field and our organization are too numerous to count.”
As an artist and scientist, singer, researcher, performer, and lecturer, Ysaye Barnwell is living proof of the strength of the oral tradition in music, demonstrating in living sound what cannot be conveyed through the printed page. Best known as a member of the a cappella vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, she has introduced thousands of people to communal singing through her workshops on “Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African-American Tradition.”
Swedish pastor, composer, and congregational song leader Per Harling has engaged in ecumenical, local, and global ministry. His work draws from a Lutheran love of hymnody and from the richness and deep meaning of his Scandinavian heritage. Harling’s more than 600 published texts, tunes, and arrangements appear in collections in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Brazil, Argentina, El Salvador, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Austria, Taiwan, Russia, and Great Britain.
Jacque Browning Jones is a published hymnwriter, a winner of multiple hymn searches, a commissioned author, and a former Hymn Society treasurer and president. Her hymns have appeared in multiple recent denominational hymnals, as well as her own collection, Songs Unchanged, Yet Ever-Changing. Jones credits her fine arts degree in theater from the University of Texas at Austin with giving her the keen sense of rhythm and voice for her biblical storytelling preference in the hymns she writes.
Lim Swee Hong is a Singaporean scholar, hymnwriter, educator, and ecumenical worship and music leader whose work has had a global impact. He has written countless scholarly articles, has co-authored two books on contemporary worship, and has produced as well his own collections of hymns. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Sacred Music and Director of the Master of Sacred Music program at Emmanuel College of Victoria University, University of Toronto. Lim served The Hymn Society as Director of Research and was recently appointed Director of Music for the 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches.
In three decades working for sacred music publisher GIA Publications, Randall Sensmeier brought his keen eye and congregationally oriented sensibility to his role in developing more than 30 author and composer collections. He has helped to nurture numerous hymnwriters whose work has appeared in virtually every new denominational hymnal in recent decades. A composer himself, Sensmeier’s hymn settings have appeared in hymnals and in his own collection, Teach Our Hearts to Sing Your Praise.
Cynthia A. Wilson has contributed to congregational song as a performer, scholar, recording artist, educator. She was a member of the national task force that produced Songs of Zion and in 2005 co-chaired the group that produced its successor, Zion Still Sings! For Every Generation. She recently retired from her position as Executive Director of Worship Resources at Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church and currently serves as Founding Director of the Junius B. Dotson Institute for Music and Worship in the Black Church and Beyond. She is a former member of The Hymn Society’s Executive Committee. She has toured widely and performed alongside Richard Smallwood, Edwin Hawkins, Patti LaBelle, James Cleveland, and Lionel Hampton, among others.