Hymns are back, baby! Or so that is what church experts say recent trends show. After years of being banished from more contemporary church worship services, the tried and true hymn, that for millennia has passed down church doctrine from generation to generation, is making a comeback.
So it is no surprise that festivals based on hymns are also becoming popular. The Association of Lutheran Church Musicians is sponsoring a Hymn Festival at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Lindsborg, Kan.
The Hymn Festival, which is free and open to the public, will be led by organists Joshua Lindgren of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Dr. Paul Meier of Kansas City, Mo. It will feature old and new hymns sung in creative arrangements and will include the church choirs of Bethany and Messiah Lutheran Churches, the Bethany College Choir and guest instrumentalists.
“We’ll have eight hymns, each on a different theme, and each with a different style of presentation,” said coordinating committee member Steve Gustafson. In the limelight will different ways of singing songs of worship — whether by incorporating instruments or having selected groups of singers perform the music.
The event is designed to showcase how those from small or mid-size churches who may be dealing with limited human resources can use hymns well in their worship services.
“How can one, creatively, do hymn singing so it’s not (just) singing five verses,” Gustafson said.
While the popularity and selection of hymns varies by denominations, Gustafson said the songs can appeal to the young as well as older members of the church.
Many larger churches have enough volunteers and staff to have traditional and contemporary music services, but for smaller churches it is important that they use the talents of their members.
The Hymn Festival is a prelude to a Sept. 29 workshop at Bethany College entitled “Hearts, Hands and Voices” which is part of a nation-wide series of events organized by ALCM.
“They feel that continuing education for worship is critical for church musicians, church leaders, pastors — anyone who has worship responsibilities,” Gustafson said.
Sponsored by Bethany College, Bethany House of Studies, Bethany Lutheran Church and Messiah Lutheran Church, the activities of the day are designed to assist church musicians, pastors and lay worship leaders in enhancing their skills in creating effective worship experiences for their congregations.
“It’s an interdenominational workshop for church leaders. It’s not strictly Lutheran,” Gustafson said.
Topics for “Hearts, Hands and Voices” include worship planning, leading the church’s liturgy and hymns, choral technique, children in worship, worship and music resources and clergy-musician-staff teamwork.
“It’s just a whole variety of practical application topics,” Gustafson said.
Registration for “Hearts, Hands and Voices” is $45 or $20 for full-time students and will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. starting in Pearson Chapel at Bethany College.
For more information about the Hymn Festival and the “Hearts, Hands and Voices” workshop, visit https://alcm.org/event/lindsborg-ks.