Heading to Oxford for the Congregational Music Conference


Next week I’ll be hanging out at Ripon College/Oxford for the 2013 Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives Conference. Scholars and congregational music practitioners from all over the globe will be gathering to present papers on a dizzing variety of topics…from exploring Manitoban Aboriginal gospel song to examining the contemporary worship movement in america.

You can read brief abstracts on all of the papers being presented HERE.

I’ll be sharing my experience of and reflections on the Retuned Hymn Movement under the heading “Reimagining traditions.”  My paper is titled “The Retuned Hymn Movement and Ecclesial Hipsterdom.”

I’m fascinated by how this movement, more than any other movement of church music right now, has thrived in its cultural moment – growing, incorporating and adapting so many of the cultural and technological changes in the past 15 years.

And in this mostly eschewing (protesting?) the Contemporary and Traditional music worlds. 

Since 2000 this movement (broadly conceived) has produced over 100 recorded projects, written over 1,200 worship songs based in old hymn texts, and musically supported thousands of worship services. See my google doc in progress here (tab2) for stats. It has defined and undergirded the musical worship of hundreds of college ministries through Reformed University Fellowship and church plants from San Francisco to London, England. Yet, true to its folk form, it has gone mostly unnoticed.

Building on the strengths of recent innovations like the ‘open-source’ movement (1998), home recording technology (pro-tools, 1998), independent distribution through Cdbaby (1997), the recent resurgence of folk music intimated by the popularity of O Brother Where Art Thou (2000), and other social media assets (twitter, bandcamp, noisetrade) this movement shows no signs of abating.  And we hope that the invitation to this conference means we have MUCH to learn and something to contribute to discussions in the broader church about congregational song.

Please pray for our trip and my nervousness. I’m excited to share recordings and other cultural artifacts that I’ve been collecting over the years.  for e.g. – just nabbed Chris Miner’s 2002 retuned hymns CD from a fellow on ebay in Australia!

check out this POST by pastor/worship leader/songwriter Glenn Packiam on his reflections getting ready for the same conferecen

4 thoughts on “Heading to Oxford for the Congregational Music Conference

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  1. While highlighting the many recorded projects since the year 2,000, I think it’s important to keep in mind just how grass roots this movement was prior to the new millennium. As a college classmate of Karl Digerness, we were singing retuned hymns in campus meetings as early as 1998, possibly earlier. And I think Indelible Grace and other RUF groups were doing the same prior to 2,000 – before recorded projects started hitting the market. I’m sure you’re aware of this but just wanted to point out that the movement has roots in the mid – late ’90s. I find great encouragement when thinking that communities were digging in to this movement before it became as widespread and “popular” as it is today.

    Nick ____________ Nick McCollum Worship Director Hope Community Church 704-621-2462

    1. thanks for the great comment nick! you are totally right. it’s fascinating to follow the relationships and projects before 2000! I think Karl told me he wrote ‘satisfied’ in 96 or 97?!

  2. I’m so glad you’re taking the time to research amd present on this topic. Your approach will be very helpful, and I can’t wait to point others to your research and writing!

  3. Sounds great! Have fun!


    > Cardiphonia > July 26, 2013 2:05 PM > cardiphonia posted: ” Next week I’ll be hanging out at Rippon > College/Oxford for the 2013 Christian Congregational Music: Local and > Global Perspectives Conference. Scholars and congregational music > practitioners from all over the globe will be gathering to present > papers o” >

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