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

Paul Richardson, professor emeritus of music at Sanford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and many other liturgy-loving and hymn-loving colleagues have created a “Penitential Opportunity” worship resource focused on the 50th anniversary of the March 16, 1968 My Lai massacre in Viet Nam.

 It’s a free and downloadable resource that includes a significant number of hymns by Hymn Society members.  One of the hymns suggested is my text, “When We Are Called to Sing,” set to VOX DILECTI in the Community of Christ hymnal, or to KINGSFOLD in the supplements, THE FAITH WE SING (Abingdon) and SING THE FAITH (Geneva). You can access and download the resource here:  


2020 AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition

The American Guild of Organists Committee on New Music is holding its seventeenth biennial competition for a new work for SATB choir and organ with congregational participation.  The piece should be between five and eight minutes long, the organ must play a significant role, and the piece should be suitable for concert and liturgical performance by moderate to advanced choirs.  Interested composers are invited to propose a commission for such a work, using as a text one of two poems listed.  The Committee contacted Mary about submitting a possible new text for the contest, and the poem she wrote for her 2017 Christmas letter was one of the two chosen.  

Star light, burning bright,
sign of hope in this dark night,
sign of peace and joy and love,
shining in the sky above,
promising, lest we forget,
God is with us, even yet,
God still calls us to Love’s way.
Trust in God, trust and obey.
Gloria in excelsis deo!

©  2017 Mary Nelson Keithahn

For details about the competition, see the next issue of The Diapason, or visit theAmerican Guild of Organists website at www.Agohq.org or email competitions@agohq.org .

2020 AGO/ECS Publishing Award competition


John is one of the planners and clinicians for a one-day workshop on congregational song that will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001.  The event, which will conclude with a hymn festival led by a children’s choir, is sponsored by the Hymn Society’s Center for Congregational Song.  For more information, contact ccs@thehymnsociety.org.

Mary spoke to the Rapid City (SD) Society for Genealogical Research at their monthly meeting in March 2017 on “Telling Our Stories from the Past and the Present,” using her two recently-published books and others as examples.

On May 8, 2017 Mary gave an “author talk” at the Gaylord (MN) Public Library, focusing on her journey in becoming a free-lance writer by circumstance, not design.  She read excerpts from Elfie, Embracing the Light, the Sing the Stories collections of Bible songs for young children, and Faith That Lets Us Sing.


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

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).

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/

Ellie Steiner wrote Mary from Westminster, PA, that she and her husband Mark, a retired UCC pastor, really appreciate her book, Embracing the Light: Reflections on God’s Word. She explained that Mark “does some short Communion services in the nursing unit [in their retirement home] where people are recovering—or not—or have short attention spans, and they’ve been able to find “just right” things in your book. Many thanks.”


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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