Our Story, Our Song: hymn fest set here

Published 2:26 am Friday, January 5, 2018

Many don’t realize how long hymnal or congregational song has been around, Dr. Steve Hubbard, former Lurleen B. Wallace Community College English instructor, said.

And that’s one of the reasons he organized a local conference featuring several experts on religious music and congregational song.

From March 1-3, “Our Story, Our Song: Celebrating Our Heritage Hymns,” will be held in various locations in Andalusia, including First Baptist Church East Three Notch, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, First Baptist Church Whatley Street, First Presbyterian Church, city hall and LBWCC’s campus.

This is the second time Andalusia has hosted this conference. The first was in 2010.

“One of the aims of this conference is to encourage unity through different faiths and traditions through song,” Hubbard, who also serves as organist at First Presbyterian Church, said.

“It’s truly ecumenical.”

A lot of worship songs are very similar, Hubbard said.

“This conference provides opportunities to learn from well-known writers and musicians and is for anyone,” Hubbard said.

“People who don’t attend church much or even sing can go and still enjoy it. It explores hymns going into general culture.”

The conference is broken up into five academic lectures, concurrent sessions and workshops for voice and instrument.

The first academic lecture, “Covington County’s Church Music: Where We Are and Where We Are Going,” will be led by Randall Bradley, director of the church music program at Baylor University. The lecture will be from 8:30-9:30 a.m. at city hall on March 1.

“One of the goals is to increase awareness of different traditions of Christian congregational song and the many new directions Christian song has taken since 1970,” Hubbard said.

Other speakers for the academic lectures will include Dan Schutte, an American composer of Catholic liturgical music and contemporary Christian songwriter; Mary Louise Bringle, former president of the Hymn Society and professor at Brevard College; Sally Ann Morris, musician and hymn author; Diane Hartung, violinist and member of Wellesley Symphony Orchestra; Kirk Hartung, organist and music director of St. Catherine of Siena Parish; Brian Hehn, director of the Center for Congregational Song in Dallas, Texas, and associate minister of music in the Prince of Peace Catholic Community in Texas; Eric Mathis, author, chair of academic studies and associate professor of music and worship at Samford University; Cynthia Wilson, professional singer, founder of the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary of the Center for Music and Worship in the Black Church Experience, and director of music in the United Methodist Church’s 2000 General Conference; and Matthew Hock, associate professor of voice and coordinator of voice studies at Auburn University, author and choirmaster/minister of music at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Auburn.

Some of the subjects in the conference include: “Congregational Song for Teenagers” led by Mathis, “Let’s Write a Hymn!” led by Bringle and Morris, “Songs of Social Justice Movements” led by Bringle and “Vocal Technique for Church Singers” led by Hoch.

This year’s conference differs from 2010 greatly, Hubbard said.

“It’s larger with three hymn festivals and offers more workshops with new speakers,” he said.

On Thursday night, there will, Schutte will lead an evening of music at LBW. On Friday night, Gringle and Morris will lead “Moving Pictures: Everlasting Songs” in the First Baptist Church East Three Notch sanctuary; and the event will conclude Saturday with a morning hymn festival at First Baptist Church Whatley Street.

The conference will be free to college and high school students, with hopes of making the event entirely free.

This event was made possible with contributions from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Alabama Humanities Foundation, the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation and Art Works.

Those who wish to donate may write a check, payable to the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College marked as “hymn conference” to Debra Moody, director of Business Services, LBW Community College, P.O. Box 1418, Andalusia, AL 36420.

For more information on the conference, call or e-mail Hubbard at 334-881-2255, shubbard@lbwcc.edu or go to the conference’s website at http://www.lbwsings.org/index.html.