John D. Witvliet

Director & Professor of Worship, Theology, and Congregational and Ministry Studies

John D. Witvliet is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and professor of worship, theology, & congregational and ministry studies at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary. His responsibilities teaching courses at both the college and seminary, and oversight of CICW’s practical and scholarly programs, including the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Vital Worship Grants Program.

His areas of interest include the history of Christian worship, worship practices in various denominations, biblical and systematic theology of worship, the role of music and the arts in worship, choral and congregational song and consulting with churches on worship renewal.

A graduate of Calvin College, Dr. Witvliet holds graduate degrees in theology from Calvin Theological Seminary, in music from the University of Illinois, and the Ph.D. in liturgical studies and theology from the University of Notre Dame.

He is the author of The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources (Eerdmans, 2007), Worship Seeking Understanding: Windows into Christian Practice (Baker Academic, 2003), co-author of Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel: Ancient Sermons and Hymns for Contemporary Christian Inspiration (Baker, 2004), and co-editor of The Worship Sourcebook (Faith Alive Christian Resources, Baker Books, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, 2004), and Worship in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Change and Continuity in Religious Practice (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), and the children’s books At Your Baptism (Eerdmans, 2011) and At God’s Table/En La Mesa de Dios (Calvin Press, 2017).

For many years, he has been active on hymnal and congregational song projects, including Renew! Songs and Hymns for Blended Worship (Hope Publishing, 1995), Sing! A New Creation. (CRC Publications, 2001), Singing the New Testament (Faith Alive, 2008), Psalms for All Seasons:  A Complete Psalter for Worship (Faith Alive, 2012), Lift Up Your Hearts (Faith Alive, 2013), and a forthcoming bilingual Spanish-English hymnal, Santo, Santo, Santo/Holy, Holy, Holy (GIA).

Dr. Witvliet serves as editor for three series of books—the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series (Eerdmans), Vital Worship, Healthy Congregations (Alban Institute), Church at Worship (Eerdmans)—as well as co-editor, with Pearl Shangkuan, of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Choral Music Series (GIA). He is also the editor of A Child Shall Lead: Children in Worship (Choristers Guild, 1999).

His articles have appeared in Studia Liturgica, Worship, Reformed Worship, Reformed Liturgy and Music, Assembly, The Hymn, The Chorister, Congregations, The Choral Journal, The American Organist, Liturgical Ministry, Jahrbuch für Liturgik und Hymnologie, The Complete Library of Christian Worship, The Banner, and Books and Culture. He has also contributed to several dictionaries, including Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart; Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Music; Worship Music: A Concise Dictionary; Oxford Dictionary of Evangelical Theology, and Zondervan Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. He has given endowed lectures at  Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, Pepperdine University, and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

He is the recipient of the Jubilate Deo award from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, The Charles H. Flax Excellence in Church Award from Hampton Ministers Conferences and Choirs Directors and Organists Guild of the Hampton Ministers Conference, and the Collaborative Change Award from Calvin College.

He also served as president of the board of directors for The Choristers Guild; music director of churches in Michigan and Indiana; research associate at Notre Dame's Center for Pastoral Liturgy; and guest lecturer at worship conferences in several states and provinces, as well as in Hong Kong, Mexico City, Northern Ireland, England, and the Netherlands.

Many of these inter-related activities have focused on helping churches to receive more deeply the gift of a profoundly Trinitarian vision for corporate worship, to engage with the Biblical Psalms as source of pastoral encouragement, to integrate theology and the worship arts more intentionally, to engage in inculturation in ways that both embrace but also challenge and transform the cultural dynamics in any given community, and to strengthen practices that engage all persons, regardless of ability or disability, physical or mental concerns, in ministry together.

Last Updated: 10/23/2017

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