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2022 Annual Hymn Society Conference

Sing the World God Imagines

Washington, DC
The Catholic University of America

July 17-21, 2022


The Hymn Society’s Annual Conference is the premier conference focusing exclusively on congregational song in the U.S. and Canada. Each year it features top scholars from the U.S. and Canada as well as other international guests for plenary addresses, 4 hymn festivals planned and led by internationally recognized song-leaders, and over 40 breakout sessions on a variety of topics. The conference is held in mid-July each year at a different location within the U.S. or Canada.

To learn more about this year’s conference happening in Washington DC,
you can go to

Each of the 4 hymn festivals offered are always free and open to the public as a part of The Hymn Society’s mission to encourage, promote, and enliven congregational song in each location we host our Annual Conference.

Sessions include special breakouts for text writers, tune writers, and song writers with the opportunity to get written and verbal feedback from the leader on your submitted piece.

Those who attend The Hymn Society’s Annual Conference include church musicians, worship leaders, pastors & priests, composers, poets, publishers, and anyone else who is passionate about congregational song.

Recent Conference Leaders:
  • Rev. Dr. I-to Loh – Editor of Sound the Bamboo: CCA Hymnal 2000, Former Seminary President at Tainan Theological College, Ethnomusicologist, and Composer
  • Rev. Dr. Cynthia Wilson – Associate General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, Director of the Center for Music and Worship in the Black Church Experience, and Award-Winning Singer
  • Dr. John Witvliet – Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Professor of Worship, Theology, and Congregational and Ministry studies at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, Author of Over 7 Books
  • Rev. Dr. Molly Marshall – President and Professor of Theology and Spiritual Formation at Central Baptist Theological School, Past-President of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, Author of 3 Monographs and multiple book chapters and articles
  • Dr. Miguel De la Torre – Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology, Author of Multiple Books and Articles, Past-President of the Society of Christian Ethics
  • Jorge Lockward – Past Director of the General Board of Global Ministries for The United Methodist Church, Minister of Worship at Church of The Village in the Northwest Bronx, and leader of the ecumenical chorale Cántico Nuevo
  • Rev. Dr. Paul Westermeyer – Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Luther Seminary, Past National Chaplain of the American Guild of Organists, Author of 5 Books on Church Music
  • Dr. John Baldovin, S.J. – Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Author of Multiple Books on Roman Catholic Liturgy, Past President of the North American Academy of Liturgy
  • Mark Miller – Assistant Professor of Church Music at Drew Theological School, Lecturer in the Practice of Sacred Music at Yale University, Published Composer by Abbingdon Press and Choristers Guild
  • Rev. John Bell – Composer and Song-Leader for the Wild Goose Resource Group of the Iona Community, Fellow of the Presbyterian Church of Canada and Royal School of Church Music, Editor of the Church of Scotland’s Church Hymnary (Fourth Edition)
  • Dr. Marcia McFee – Ritual Artist and Creator of Worship Design Studio, Author of Think Like a Filmaker, Guest Professor at Universities and Colleges across the U.S. and Canada
Recent Conference Locations:
  • 2022 – Washington, DC
  • 2021 – Online
  • 2020 – Online
  • 2019 – Dallas, Texas
  • 2018 – St. Louis, Missouri
  • 2017 – Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • 2016 – Redlands, California
  • 2015 – New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 2014 – Columbus, Ohio
  • 2013 – Richmond, Virginia
  • 2012 – Winnipeg Canada

Learn More and/or Register at


Author – Ginny Chilton Maxwell is Music Minister at Church of the Ascension in Norfolk, Virginia, where she serves as organist, choirmaster, and elementary music teacher.


While doing research for my previous blog posts this summer I came across a group called “Music that Makes Community.” If you’re reading this blog it’s possible you’ve already heard of them. They are a nonprofit that works on a number of things related to communal singing, and I highly suggest you check out their website, but what I wish to highlight here is that everything they do is based on the belief that singing together is particularly effective at building community. This is an idea that may feel foreign to us in 21st century America but, in the not-so-distant past, you needed other people in order to have any music in your life at all. Before recorded music, everyone played an instrument or at least sang. Nearly everyone could keep a steady beat and hold a pitch (You have to be able to do those things if you want to create music together!). Think of how much certain songs or bands shaped who you were at different times in your life. Now, imagine you lived before recording technology was made available, and you and your friends and family had to make all that music yourself. We would all be much better musicians, (Yay!), but I’m more struck by how much more time we would have spent face-to-face with one another. I can’t help but wonder what a difference that would make in terms of belonging and community building.



Church is one of the few places that people still gather to make music together en masse. Recorded music has become so ubiquitous that we rarely even listen to music with others, nevermind sing it together; we each have our own self-curated list of songs on our smartphones which we listen to with earbuds on, keeping us from being able to enjoy even listening to music together. I think it’s pretty awesome that we church folk are so proudly countercultural that we will still sing together each Sunday morning (and during the week, too!). When we sing together, we are closer to each other. When we are closer to each other we cultivate a sense of belonging, we can provide for each other’s needs, and we can better communicate with one another. In a society that feels increasingly polarized, you might say making music together can be one way to start solving our problems.


Knitting Hearts Together

Creating places where people feel close to one another, where people are known and feel like they belong, is some of the most important work of the church. Communal singing is not just a fun activity, it is a way of knitting hearts together over time. When we are close to someone, we are seeing Christ in them and we are being Christ to them. If you are involved in music at your church, whether formally or informally, you are doing what Jesus called you to do. That is sacred stuff.


For more blogs by this author and others, go to our main blog page.