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January 4

Course Information

The Center for Congregational Song is sponsoring a seven-session online course on the theology of hymns during January and February 2024. Sessions will be held on Fridays from 12:30 to 2:00 pm ET beginning on January 5 and concluding on February 16.

This course is intended for pastors, musicians, and others who do not hold church music and/or theology degrees or who may have missed this area of study. Registration will be $175 for members, $225 for non-members, and $275 for a pastor-musician team serving the same congregation. All participants will be required to have a copy Sing With Understanding (3rd edition), edited by C. Michael Hawn. Click here for more information or to register now.


The primary instructor will be Heather Josselyn-Cranson, OSL.

Heather Josselyn-Cranson, OSL, is a scholar and practitioner of liturgical song from plainchant to the music of the Emerging Church. She received her Th.D. at Boston University, where she studied with Carl Daw and Linda Clark. She has taught classes in hymnody at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, and at the Russia United Methodist Theological Seminary in Moscow. An active scholar, she has published articles on church music in AIM Liturgy Resources Magazine, WorshipArts, Sacramental Life, Questions Liturgiques, The Hymn, Worship, and Plainsong and Medieval Music. She has presented on topics as diverse as music and theology in the Emerging Church (North American Academy of Liturgy), the healing power of music (Order of Saint Luke), the hymnody of World War I (Hymn Society), and the Genevan Psalm Tunes (Calvinism in the 21st Century). Her exploration of function in liturgical music, The Reason Why We Sing, is available from OSL Publications at oslpublications.org. Josselyn-Cranson is currently co-editing The Church’s Living Song: Propositions for an Ecumenical Theology of Liturgical Music, which will be released in 2024 by GIA.

Course Dates

Friday, January 5, 2024 – What does Congregational Singing mean?

Friday, January 12, 2024 – Singing Creation and Incarnation

Friday, January 19, 2024 – Singing the Crucifixion and Resurrection

Friday, January 26, 2024 – Singing the Holy Spirit

Friday, February 2, 2024 – Singing Eschatology

Friday, February 9, 2024 – Singing Baptism

Friday, February 16, 2024 – Singing Eucharist

Course Description

This course will consider congregational song from a theological perspective. We will first explore how communal song is a vehicle for meaning and how music conveys significance even apart from words. Then we will survey hymns from throughout the history of Western Christianity on a variety of topics, including Incarnation, Eschatology, and the sacraments. Participants will reflect on theological approaches to each of these topics as well as hymns that express these approaches.

Participants can expect to spend between one and two hours each week reading chapters from the third edition of Michael Hawn’s Sing with Understanding and engaging in an online discussion forum, in addition to our weekly Friday afternoon class session. Both discussion forum participation and class activities will help participants relate our own experiences to content from the reading. The seven-week class will culminate in a creative final assignment drawing on ideas from throughout the class.

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