Long called "the singing church," The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) rejoices in confessing Jesus Christ through song. Delving more deeply into this, roughly 40 LCMS hymn writers are tucked away at the Toddhall Retreat Center, Columbia, Ill, learning how to join text and tune robustly for the benefit of the church-at-large. The conference, "The Sung Confession: Lutheran Hymnwriting in the 21st Century," which began Sunday, Jan. 27, is a venue for education and encouragement for LCMS hymnwriters as they develop poetically sound and evangelically rich hymns for use in our churches.
The hymnwriters' time together is framed according to the Church's orders for daily prayer (Martins, Responsive Prayer, Evening Prayer, Compline) with time for reflection, study, visiting and singing. Dr. Joseph Herl, associate professor of music at Concordia University Nebraska, presented on "What Works and What Doesn't: Lessons from the Hymnal." With several hymns published in Lutheran Service Book, the Rev. Stephen Starke offered thoughts on "One Perspective on the Craft of Writing a Hymn Text." Others will discuss the topics of "Nuts and Bolts of Hymn Construction," "The Art and Science of Translation," and more.
Conference attendee Mrs. Rebekah Curtis (Worden, Ill.) hopes the conference will become a regular part of the LCMS' Life Together. "The Church is a living thing," she noted, "and hymnody is something that naturally springs from the people of God."
Up-and-coming hymnwriters will also have time to consult with published writers, collaborating on faithful hymnody that points to Christ. "What is more important to remember is that hymns are the sung confession of the church, teachers of God's people, the book of doctrine for the laity," noted Starke.
Stay tuned to reporter.lcms.org and the printer Reporter for more information on the conference.