Hoyt Hickman, RIP

Hoyt Hickman, one of the founding members of the North American Academy of Liturgy and member of Societas Liturgica, has passed away. He was a member of the United Methodist Church.

Hickman earned his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School in 1953 and S.T.M. in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in 1954. He was ordained deacon in 1952 and elder in 1953. He worked as Executive Secretary of the United Methodist Commission on Worship from 1968-1972. From 1969-1973, Hickman was a member of the Worship Commission of the World Methodist Council from 1971-1981, and director of the Liturgical Conference from 1973-1980. He served as Director of Worship Resources Development for the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville from 1972-1993, working as the first full-time national staff member in the field of worship in the United Methodist Church.

Hickman taught as Visiting Professor of liturgical studies at Drew University from 1994-1996, teaching “The Revised Common Lectionary,” “Public Worship in the Methodist Tradition” and “The Church at Worship.” He served as the General Editor of the hymnal supplement, “The Faith We Sing” in 2000.

Hickman’s published works include “United Methodist Altars” (1959), “At the Lord’s Table” (1981), “Strengthening Our Congregation’s Worship” (1981), “A Primer for Church Worship” (1984), “United Methodist Altars: A Guide for the Congregation” (1984), “The Acolyte’s Book” (1985), “Holy Communion” (1987), “Planning Worship Each Week” (1988), “Worship Resources of the United Methodist Hymnal” (1989), “Workbook on Communion and Baptism” (1990), “Being a Communion Steward” (1991), “United Methodist Worship” (1991), and “Worshiping with United Methodists, Revised Edition” (2007).

The Hoyt L. Hickman Award for Outstanding Liturgical Scholarship and Practice is awarded annually by The Order of St. Luke to a college student who has demonstrated leadership in worship and quality scholarship in the study of liturgy.

Andy Langford, successor to Hoyt as the Assistant General Secretary of Worship at the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church, published this tribute in Ministry Matters:

Hoyt Hickman was the first Dean of all United Methodist liturgists. Hoyt introduced The United Methodist Church to the latest and best of all ecumenical worship resources. He literally changed how United Methodists worship.

Hoyt grew up in a faithful Methodist home. His father was a member of the denomination’s Judicial Council. He began his ministry in Pennsylvania, but his love of worship took him away from a local congregation to establish the first worship desk in our church.

With the creation of The General Board of Discipleship in 1972, Hoyt answered worship questions and created resources for our church. Over the next thirty years, he created the sixteen volume “Supplemental Worship Resources” series that introduced our denomination to Word and Table, the ecumenical lectionary, services of death and resurrection, Songs of Zion, and more. With wonderful friends such as Jim White, Don Saliers, and Larry Stookey, Hoyt created a whole host of worship services for the seasons of the Christian year.

The apex of Hoyt’s career was his leadership to craft the liturgies in our United Methodist Hymnal and United Methodist Book of Worship. All of those documents were created first on Hoyt’s computer and became his greatest accomplishment.

Martha was his beloved wife, and he celebrated her own success as an author. Their children were a constant source of joy and proud conversation.

Rest in peace good friend. Worship God with all the angels. Your good works shall always follow you.

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