RIP Thomas H. Troeger

Pray Tell  has received word that liturgical and musical leader Thomas Troeger passed away last night.

Thomas H. Troeger (b. 1945), was professor of Christian communication at Yale Divinity school and well known as a preacher, poet, and musician. He was a fellow of Silliman College, held a B.A. from Yale University; B.D. Colgate Rochester Divinity School; S.T. D. Dickinson College, and was awarded an honorary D.D. from Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1970 and the Episcopal Church in 1999, and remained dually aligned with both traditions. Troerger led conferences and lectures in worship and preaching throughout North America, as well as in Denmark, Holland, Australia, Japan, and Africa. He served as national chaplain to the American Guild of Organists. He is the former president of the Academy of Homiletics as well as Societas Homiletica. He wrote some 22 books in the areas of preaching, poetry, hymnody, and worship. Many of his hymn texts are found in New Hymns for the Lectionary (Oxford, 1992), and God, You Made All Things for Singing (Oxford, 2009), as well as in most every hymnal published in the U.S. in recent years.  [biography adapted from]

According to the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, his best-known and widely-published hymns include As a chalice cast of gold; God made from one blood all the families of earth; O praise the gracious power; Praise the source of faith and learning; Silence! Frenzied unclean spirit; Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud; These things did Thomas count as real; View the present through the promise; and Wind who makes all winds that blow.

Troeger was elected a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada* in 2019.

May this servant of God rest in peace and rise in glory.


  1. I am so sorry to hear this. Tom was a wonderful person, a true artist with words, a wonderful flautist, and a living witness to the power of hymns in the life of faith communities. I was privileged to work with him at the Institute of Sacred Music in connection with the Congregations Project, and he shared a wonderful reflection in the inaugural issue of the Yale ISM Review, which I edited.

    My heart goes out to his lovely wife Merle Marie, his family and friends, and to all his past students who mourn his passing. May he rest in peace, and join in the chorus of heaven with all the blessed.

    1. Tom was also modest and extremely kind. After being an exchange seminarian from Cambridge, he welcomed me back to sit at his feet at Yale for his homeletics classes, and soon after as the newly arrived assistant rector in Bethany, listening to my fledgling preaching generously, appreciatively and quietly supportively. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

    2. In his annual review of new hymns found in the September issue of Worship sometime in the late 70’s, Erik Routley’s glowing commentary about Fred Pratt Green’s “For the Fruits of [ His/This/All ] Creation” launched my life-long interest and love of modern hymn texts.
      Another hymn text that I later memorized and shared with students and retreatants is Tom’s “A Spendthrift Lover is the Lord.” The third verse is a true gem of theological insight wedded to poetry that sings even without the music. I highly recommend it for an evening’s meditation.

      May Tom now share in “the wealth of grace that’s hinted by the stars.”

      1. A thousand “yeses” to this: Spendthrift Lover is an great text, and his craftsmanship with words that so well complemented his theological insight was unique. May he Rest In Peace, and rise in glory.

  2. In grad school, I was under a crunch with other requirements of my degree, and I was sorry I never had the chance to take one of his courses. From the 80s, I was a huge admirer of his hymn texts. He let me experiment with setting one, but he was firm in suggesting it wasn’t for public worship. When our Catholic graduate students had their turn for leading chapel liturgy at the theological union, someone suggested I approach him to play flute. He was so gracious and accommodating. Truly a holy man.

  3. Since often does not post texts under copyright, as is the case with “A Spendthrift Lover Is the Lord,” those who do not know this fine hymn text may find it here:

    Tom Troeger was a masterful hymn writer. I believe that appreciation of his great contribution to the Church’s hymnody will continue to grow.

    Rest in peace, brother Tom.

  4. Having just used “These things did Thomas count as real” this past Sunday, once again I had to admire Troeger’s ability to pack an enormity of meaning into a few syllables.

    The last frail twitch of flesh and bone

    chills me, no matter how many times I sing it, often with tears in my eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *