Hymn Based Resources

John D. Horman & Mary Nelson Keithahn.

Hymns Etc.

"Music is the art of the prophets, the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificient and delightful presents God has given us."

Martin Luther

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HYMNS ETC. - Upcoming & Recent Events

Our Faith That Lets Us Sing: Fifty New Hymns and Short Worship Songs has just been published by Wayne Leupold Editions.  This fourth collection of new texts and tunes includes hymns and songs for all ages to sing with faith and hope of God’s love in troubled times, not just in congregational worship but whenever the congregation gathers.  The texts are scripture-based, written in contemporary language and standard poetic meters. The singable tunes are well-crafted and easily learned. Indexes and notes on the background of each hymn and song provide useful information for worship planners.  To Order: Call Toll Free Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc., 1-800-765-3196 or 1-336-996-8653, Monday-Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm EST. Have your MasterCard, VISA, or Discover information ready.  Or, order online at www.wayneleupold.com


Articles about Mary’s two new books, Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier and Embracing the Light: Reflections on God’s Word, have appeared in several newspapers recently. Mary was also interviewed about her books on South Dakota Public Broadcasting on August 15.

Rapid City Journal 8/20/16 - Mary Nelson Keithahn is not new to being a published author, but that doesn’t dampen the excitement of seeing new writing published.

SDPB Radio 8/15/16 - Author and Pastor Mary Nelson Keithahn visits about her new books, Embracing the Light: Reflections on God's Word and Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier. She considers herself a "spiritual descendent of the Separatists who landed in Plymouth in 1620. She also describes how her long life has added to her insight into the nature of God.

Shoreview Press 8/25/16- The stories illustrations are able to tell, through stark sketches and the soft hues of watercolor, have captivated Katie Kangas since she was in elementary school.

Northfield News 8/12/16- Carleton College alumna Mary Nelson Keithahn publishes two books


Mary and John were among the sectional leaders at the annual conference of The Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada at the University of Redlands in Redlands, CA, July 17-21.  In their sectional, “Singing the Stories of Our Faith with Young Children,” they shared the approach they had used in writing their way through the Bible in 80 songs for the youngest singers (ages 4-7), and introduced their three collections, Sing the Stories of Jesus (2008), Sing the Stories of God’s People (2010),and Sing the Stories of God’s NEW People (2016), all published by Augsburg Fortress Press





This year Mary also led the sectional for text writers, and John led the sectional for tune writers.  Together they introduced some of their new hymns in a sectional on Faith That Lets Us Sing, their collection of fifty new hymns and short worship songs (Wayne Leupold Editions, 2016) that will be available later this summer. The collection includes hymns commissioned by the Presbyterian Church of La Porte, IN, First Congregational Church (UCC) of Washington, D.C., St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Hickory, NC, Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Kensington, MD, and the Carleton College Class of 1956.

Mary attended the 60th reunion of the Carleton College Class of 1956 in Northfield, Minnesota June 16-19, 2016. Carleton was also celebrating its 150th birthday!

Mary offered her two new books, Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier and Embracing the Light, at an alumni book-signing during the 2016 Reunion Week at Carleton College.


The hymn that her class commissioned us to write ten years ago was sung at the closing service on Sunday, and the next week Leah Golden, ’86, posted this on her Facebook page:

“As our reunion officially closes, I offer you the following. It is from the second stanza of a hymn commissioned by the class of '56 in honor of their 50th reunion. I think it summarizes well what so many of us feel about our alma mater.

‘By grace we came to study here where doors were open wide 
By wise and caring teachers who became both friend and guide. 
We learned to think, reflect, and act, to differ and concur, 
Explored new worlds within, without, discovered who we were.’”

(From “How Glad We Are to Be Alive,” words by Mary Nelson Keithahn)

John and his granddaughter, Ava, who turned six in March, made their debut at Carnegie Hall in New York on May 30. John accompanied Ava as she played her violin in the 2016 International Piano and Strings Competition Winners Recital Program, an event presented by American Protégé. John's daughter, Amy Beth Horman, concert violinist and Ava's teacher, was recognized for having the most students (eight) in the recital.


Mary has had two books published by Lilja Press in June 2016:

Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier, a chapter historical fiction book for children, chronicles the adventures of the Sheldon-Loverin “double cousins” as their families were settling in Iowa and South Dakota after the War Between the States.  The stories are based on a 1942 family history written by her maternal grandfather, Frank Clyde Sheldon, and memoirs written at the age of ninety by his “double cousin,” Elfie May Loverin Minard, and transcribed by her great-great grandson, Dave Minard. Mary’s oldest granddaughter, Katie Kangas, did the watercolor illustrations, and her youngest granddaughter, Hazel Keithahn, provided the calligraphy for the “Elfie” font.   For more information about the book, reviews, and how to order, go to https://marynelsonkeithahn.com/


Embracing the Light: Reflections on God’s Word isa collection of 130 short meditations and prayers on Christian faith, life, and mission within the framework of the liturgical and secular year. It also offers insights into important life events from birth to death and issues such as peace and reconciliation and caring for one another. The meditations include hymns (some her own), stories from various sources, and personal memoirs.  For more information about the book, reviews, and how to order, go to: https://marynelsonkeithahn.com/

Mary’s hymn interpretation of “Now Thank We All Our God” in the Fall 2015 issue of THE HYMN (pp. 33-34) includes the text written by Martin Rinkart in the 17th century, along with her two replacement stanzas for his third Trinitarian stanza.  The alternate stanzas are intended for use when the hymn is sung in inter-faith settings. 


The Summer 2015 issue of THE HYMN (pp.  33-34) includes Mary’s hymn interpretation of “I Love the Lord; He Heard My Cry.” The text is from Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 116, and the tune is a contemporary gospel setting by Richard Smallwood.  In her article, Mary explains how this unlikely union of an 18th century text and a 20th century gospel tune came about through the practice of “lining out” hymns in British and American colonial churches when hymnbooks and literate singers were scarce.


Mary’s hymn interpretation of the Marathi hymn, “Heart and Mind, Possessions, Lord,” is included in the Spring 2015 issue of THE HYMN (pp. 21-24), the quarterly journal published by The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. One of her sources was her longtime friend from Yale Divinity School, Sarala Barnabas, whose home is in Ahmednagar, India where the author of the text lived in the 19th century. The article includes a skit a youth choir used to introduce the hymn in Mary’s congregation, plus a percussive accompaniment for the Marathi melody provided by the teen-age son of a Hindu family that attends the church.


Our hymn, “Behold the Lamb of God" (KENSINGTON) is included in “Singing Our Savior’s Story: A Congregational Song Supplement for the Christian Year—Hymn Texts Since 1990,” published by GIA in 2014.  The collection of 103 new hymns was compiled and edited by James Abbington.  This hymn was previously published in octavo form by GIA.  It is also included in “Lift Up Your Hearts: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs,” a hymnal published jointly by Faith Alive Resources for the Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Church of America.  The fourteen-stanza hymn has an unusual format as the first and last stanzas can serve as “bookends” for one or more of the other stanzas that fit the current liturgical seasons or lectionary readings.  Mary wrote the text after reading a sermon by John Bell that pointed out that Jesus was called “Lamb of God” at his baptism, but the phrase could have been applied to him at any time during his life, death, and resurrection.  John’s melodic unison tune supports the sense of awe and wonder in the text.


Community of Christ Sings, a new hymnal published by the Community of Christ in the fall of 2013, includes four of our hymns:  “The Wedding Guests Were Waiting”  (SIGNS TODAY), “When the World Is Babbling Round Us” (MIDDLETOWN), “A Mother Lined A Basket” (WEST MAIN), and“God of Every Generation” (WAUWATOSA).  John’s tune, WAUWATOSA, is also used as a setting for Joy Patterson’s text, “Christ, You Call Us All to Service.”  In addition, Mary’s text, “When We Are Called to Sing Your Praise,” is in this hymnal, set to VOX DILECTI instead of KINGSFOLD which has been used by others.   

John has two tunes in the 2013 Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God: WEST MAIN and MARY AND MARTHA (SEACHRIST).

Let us come into God's presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to God with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:2

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