September 1, 2019 (Holland Lectures) | C. Michael Hawn

Holland Lectures 2019
“Tell me what you sing and I’ll tell you who you are:
Developing a Congregational Identity through Congregational Singing”
with Dr. C. Michael Hawn

As strange as it may seem, singing together has the potential to stem hate. The great commandment: “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 22:36-40; Luke 10:27) is rarely quoted in an age of division and hate. Perhaps we need to take what we sing in our sanctuaries to the streets. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s is perhaps the most powerful recent example of this. Somehow the songs of this era have given way to strident shrieks and slogans of hate. What might we sing that brings disparate groups – economically, ethnically, politically – together for the good of humanity…



C. Michael Hawn is one of our nation’s leading experts in hymnology and world music. Now a Richmonder, he recently retired after 25 years from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, as University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music and director of the Sacred Music Program. Previously he taught at two Baptist seminaries for a total of 15 years. He leads festivals and publishes extensively in the area of hymnology, is the USA Editor for the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, and writes a weekly hymn studies column entitled History of Hymns. A student of global Christian music, Hawn has conducted research and taught in over 40 countries. In addition, he has sung extensively as a countertenor and is a recovering accordion player.

Congregational singing both forms our individual faith perspective, but also shapes us as the body of Christ in community. These lectures will examine our hymnic heritage that have shaped our faith, look at some trends that are currently influencing the ecumenical church, and consider the cultural, societal, and ethical issues that inspire what we might sing in the future.

“Tell me what you sing and I’ll tell you who you are.” — Albert van den Heuvel (World Council of Churches, 1966)