Hymn conference will mark Reformation anniversary with hymns

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

hymn society posterThis summer, a celebration of hymnody will coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at the annual Hymn Society conference to be held at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, July 16-20. Attracting hundreds of hymn aficionados, the conference will revolve around the theme: “Now Thank We All Our God: Celebrating Congregational Song since the Reformation.”

This year’s conference will offer many ways to experience the incredible variety of music amidst scholars, students, musicians, composers, congregational leaders, and community members, with over 30 different workshops and five free hymn festivals that are open to the public.

Several conference sessions focus on Mennonite themes. Grebel professor Carol Penner will speak on “Singing Good News for Women,” examining Mennonite hymnals in North America from 1927 to the present. She will look at lyrics from the perspective of women who have been abused, using a rubric of three theological concepts of particular interest to women: suffering, obedience and forgiveness. Wendell Glick and Jerome Weaver will present on “Recent A Cappella Hymns from the Conservative Mennonite Tradition,” exploring 25 unaccompanied hymns of the twenty-first century written by hymn writers and composers from various conservative Mennonite churches. Bradley Kauffman and Adam Tice ask “What Language Shall We Borrow? Preparing a New Mennonite Worship and Song Collection.” In this session, members of the new 2020 Mennonite hymnal committee will provide an overview of their work, with special attention to what makes Mennonite worship and theology distinctive.

Grebel music professor Ken Hull noted that “this conference is truly an extraordinary opportunity for local musicians and hymn-lovers.  Poets, composers, editors, musicians, clergy, scholars all come together to sing, study, explore the ever-growing repertoire of congregational song. You are likely to find yourself chatting with someone who wrote one of the newer hymns in your congregation’s hymn book.”

Community members are especially invited to join in the five free, public hymn festivals that will be held at various churches around Kitchener-Waterloo. Grebel music professor Ken Hull is involved in the Sunday, July 16 evening with Spiritus Ensemble, and the other evenings hold the promise of equally delightful hymn-filled experiences.

As an organization, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada encourages, promotes, and enlivens congregational singing as an integral component of worship across many different denominations. The Hymn Society believes that congregational song is an integral component of worship, that the writing and singing of new texts and tunes needs to be promoted, and that there is value in learning about the origins of the words and music they sing. Grebel is helping to support this conference through a generous donation to the Institute for Worship and the Arts.


SUN., JULY 16 | 7:30 PM | “Living Voices of the Gospel”
St Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 54 Benton St., Kitchener, ON

MON., JULY 17 | 7:30 PM | “Reformation Psalms & Beyond”
St Andrew’ss Presbyterian Church, 54 Queen St. N., Kitchener, ON

TUES., JULY 18 | 7:30 PM | “A Day for Making Changes: Singing Reformation around the Globe”
First United Church, 16 William St. W., Waterloo, ON

WED., JULY 19 | 7:30 PM | “God of all the Many Lands”
St John’s Lutheran Church, 22 Willow St., Waterloo, ON

THURS., JULY 20 | 10:30 AM | “Singing our Journeys Together: Semper Reformanda”
Theatre of the Arts, UWaterloo, Ring Rd., Waterloo, ON


2017 Hymn Society poster (PDF)

 Hymn Festival Poster 2017

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