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This syllabus is for a course that thoroughly covers hymns, and studies the more philosophical aspects of liturgy.

Course Syllabus

Catalog Description:

A study of the development and use of music for worship, with emphasis on hymns. The course will outline the historical threads of hymnody and liturgy. Prominent hymn writers and derivations of tunes will be studied.

Course Objective:

To help the student develop a love for hymns as a vehicle for personal and corporate faith and worship; to expose the student to a wide variety of hymns and their historical contexts; to introduce the student to a number of liturgical models; and to build resources for future work with hymnody and liturgy in the local church.

Required Texts:

Music, David W. and Milburn Price . A Survey of Christian Hymnody. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Company, 1999.

Hustad, Donald P. Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal. Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Company, 1993.

Course Schedule

Each reading assignment will have a question sheet in Microsoft Word format which will be answered in preparation for the lecture and and handed in at the beginning of class.


  1. Class 1
    Introduction to MUS230
    Watch and discuss Alice Parker’s The Reason Why We Sing
  2. Class 2
    Mouw, Richard J. “Wonderful Words of Life.” Perspectives. November 2004:7-10.
    Johnson, David W. “Educating Sheila: Reformed Worship and the Contemporary
    Spiritual Quest.” Call to Worship. Volume 38.2, 2004-2005: 3-9.
  3. Class 3
    Hymnody, Introduction – Hymns as poetry, music, theology, etc (12 pages)
  4. Class 4
    Jubilate, Chapter 12 – The Drama of Worship (37 pages)
  5. Class 5
    Watch Ancient-Future Worship
    Due: Project #1 Choose Your Funeral Hymns Early Church
  6. Class 6
    Jubilate, Chapter 7 – 2nd through 15th centuries (26 pages)
  7. Class 7
    Hymnody, Chapter 1 – Early Church Song (17 pages)
    Due: Project #2 Choose Hymns to Match a Scripture
  8. Class 8
    The Hymnal as a Resource
    Due Test #1 Reformation & England
  9. Class 9
    Jubilate, Chapter 8 – 16th through 18th centuries (29 pages)
  10. Class 10
    Hymnody, Chapter 2 – The Lutheran Chorale (18 pages)
  11. Class 11
    Hymnody, Chapter 3 – Psalmody (14 pages)
    Due: Project #3 Liturgical Season
  12. Class 12
    Hymnody, Chapter 4 – British Hymnody, part 1 (24 pages)
  13. Class 13
    Hymnody, Chapter 5 – British Hymnody, part 2 (20 pages)
  14. Class 14
    Due: Project Choice 1
  15. Class 15
    Modernizing Hymns
    Due: Test #2 America
  16. Class 16
    Hymnody, Chapter 6 – American Hymnody, part 1 (20 pages)
  17. Class 17
    Hymnody, Chapter 7 – American Hymnody, part 2 (38 pages)
  18. Class 18
    Due: Project Choice 2
  19. Class 19
    Due: Project #4 Hymnal Review
  20. Class 20
    Due: Final Exam

Assigned Hymnals
The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990 Westminster/John Knox)
The Celebration Hymnal (1997 Word/Integrity)
Renew! Songs and Hymns for Blended Worship (1995 Hope)
The Worshiping Church (1990 Hope Publishing Company)
The Baptist Hymnal (1991 Convention Press)
The Hymnal 1982 [Episcopal] (1985 The Church Pension Fund)
Psalter Hymnal (1987 CRC Publications)
The United Methodist Hymnal (1989 The United Methodist Publishing House)
Lutheran Book of Worship (1978 Augsburg Publishing House)

Recommended Periodicals
Choral Journal
Christianity Today
Church Herald
Reformed Worship
The Hymn
Call to Worship

Recommended Library Resources
Webber, Robert, ed. Complete Library of Christian Worship. Ref BV 5.C65
Julian, John. Dictionary of Hymnology. Ref BV 305 J8
Davies, J.G., ed. Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship. Ref BV 173 .N49 1986
Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Ref ML 100 .N48


Project #1 – Choose your funeral hymns.

Choose some hymns that you would like people to sing at your funeral that are appropriate to the setting, remind your friends of you, or give a life message of some sort. Explain why these hymns are meaningful to you.

Project #2 – Choose hymns to match a scripture.

Find the perfect hymn(s) for a sermon entitled “I Am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11-18). Give a short description of each hymn and how it fits with the them. (In projects 2-4, you should start your search in your assigned hymnal and then branch out into other sources.)

Project #3 – Introduction to a liturgical season.

Each student will be assigned a season in the church year and will prepare a 1-2 page report on it. Your paper will become a part of every student’s final notebook, so make it good!

Pick Two (2) Projects

  • Project A – Find hymns for a “traditional” American service.

    I will provide a service outline like you would find in many mainline churches–you provide the hymns.

  • Project B – Hymn Writer.

    1-2 page paper about a hymnist of any era. The finished papers will be submitted to The Cyber Hymnal ( or other internet sites, so try to choose a subject that is not extremely well known.

  • Project C – Hymn of the month.

    If you decided to feature a particular hymn or hymn tune for a month at your local church, how would you keep it interesting? Start with a bulletin-sized introduction to the hymn or composer, then find different renditions of the hymn for congregation and choir, variations of the text or tune, and interesting ways of introducing it or incorporating it in your service.

  • Project D – Research a denomination’s liturgy.

    Every denomination has taken a unique historical path to arrive at its current liturgy. Research the liturgical history of a denomination that interests you and then compare it to their current liturgical practices. Current liturgical practices can often be found in denominational hymnals, websites, and other official publications.

  • Project E – Find hymns to match the themes of the ordinary.

    The ordinary of the traditional Latin service (Kyrie, etc) contains basic themes which are still useful today. Find hymns (in English) which reinforce those themes, as if you were going to shape a modern English service after the ordinary.

Project #4 – Review of your hymnal.

Each of you will be assigned a hymnal at the beginning of the semester. Throughout the semester you will get to know its strengths and the weaknesses. This paper will give a detailed account of the editorial principles of the hymnal, its indices, the types of music it includes, special features or drawbacks, etc. Approach this project as if you have been asked by a worship committee to review the hymnal for possible adoption at your church. Your review will be a part of every student’s final notebook.