The Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada is meeting this week in Richmond, VA. Some 350 of us are here. Theme this year is “Tree of Life and Love: The Blossoming of Song since Vatican II.” Keynote speakers are Fr. John Baldovin, SJ, Fr. Michael Joncas, and Victoria Sirota, and I’m chairing a panel with Emily Brink, Ruth Duck, Michael Hawn, and David Music.

The Hymn Society is largely Protestant in membership, but has included a good sampling of Catholics from the beginning in 1922. There are nearly 2000 members.

We began last night with a hymn fest, “Planted Beside Flowing Water: Celebrating Some Key Themes of Vatican II,” led by Carl Daw and Delores Dufner, OSB. To give you a taste of a Hymn Society meeting, here is a listing of the pieces sung, with the thematic titles given to each.

Opening: “Like the Stars that Hymned Creation” by Carl Daw / AR HYD Y NOS, Welsh melody

The church as all the baptized, called to share Christ’s mission to the world: At the Font We Start Our Journey” by Jeffery Rowthorn / UNION SEMINARY by Harold Friedell

The pilgrim nature of the church: Bless Now, O God, the Journey” by Sylvia Dunstan / LLANGLOFFAN, 19th c. Welsh tune

The solidarity of the church with the whole human family: The Church of Christ in Every Age” by Fred Pratt Green / DUNEDIN by Vernon Griffiths

Our call to read the signs of the times in light of the Gospel: “What New Endeavors Will We Draw” by Adam Tice / RADIANT CITY by Thomas Pavlechko

Openness to all that is good and true in every culture and religion: Too Often, God Your Name is Used” by Thomas Troeger / IN NOMINE DEI by Sally Ann Morris

The centrality of the Word of God: “We Marvel at the Words, O Christ” by Harman Stuempfle / SALVATION from Kentucky Harmony

Liturgy as the prayer of the whole church acting together with Christ: “In Christ Called to Worship” by Ruth Duck / ST. DENIO, Welsh ballad

The Holy Spirit’s role in renewing the church and bringing creation to fulfillment: “Send Us Your Spirit” by David Haas

Closing: “Sing a New Church” by Delores Dufner OSB / NETTLETON

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