Dr. W. James Abbington

Lift Every Voice and Sing! African American Hymnody as Spiritual Formation

The three stanza classic hymn by James Weldon Johnson exhorts us to sing, recounts the struggle of a people, and concludes with a prayer. Taking these three stanzas as its framework, this presentation will explore how we are formed by African American hymnody, especially taking note of hymnody present in This Far by Faith (Augsburg Fortress) and the recent hymnal, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (GIA) for which Abbington served as Chairman and Executive Editor.

Dr. W. James Abbington’s research interests include music and worship in the Christian church, African American sacred folk music, organ, choral music, and ethnomusicology. Along with his roles at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where he has taught since 2005, Prof. Abbington is executive editor of the African American Church Music Series by GIA Publications (Chicago). In additional to writing and editing, he has produced numerous recordings under GIA. One of the nation’s most respected choir directors, musicians and authors. Prof Abbington is a popular speaker, performer and conductor at universities, conferences, symposiums and churches around the world.  DMA, The University of Michigan, 1999. MMus, the University of Michigan, 1995 and BA, Morehouse College, 1983.




     Tony Alonso

In Endless Song

Liturgical musicians often express bold hopes for the unique power of music to unite the Body of Christ and form us for Christian living. This plenary explores both the potential and the limits of what singing can do to bind us together and form us for life in the world.

Tony Alonso is a theologian and composer whose work is animated by the diverse needs of the contemporary church. His music appears in compilations and hymnals across Christian denominations throughout the world. In 2015, this work was recognized with an invitation to compose the responsorial psalm for the first Mass Pope Francis celebrated in the United States. Tony’s scholarly work lies at the intersection of liturgical theology, ecclesiology, and cultural studies. He has authored several essays and articles in journals such as Modern Theology, Worship, and Liturgy. In 2019, Tony was awarded the Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award for the best academic essay in the field of theology by the Catholic Theological Society of America.  Tony is Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture at Candler School of Theology at Emory University where he also serves as Director of Catholic Studies.


Karol Kinard Kimmell


Listening for the voices of our children in word and song.

Children learn by watching and listening to others. As their understanding of corporate worship and congregational song grow, are opportunities provided for them to participate fully and even lead parts of worship? Performing children’s choirs and the annual Youth Sunday are only the beginning. Together let’s ponder why we do, or do not, hear those young voices in worship and learn ways to expand opportunities for their participation and leadership. Isaiah 11:6…And a little child shall lead them.

Karol Kinard Kimmell is Director of Youth & Children’s Music at All Saints’ Episcopal, Atlanta, GA (since 1998) where she directs four singing and two ringing choirs for grades PreK – 12. Karol serves as co-director and is on faculty for two annual summer events: Lutheridge Music Week, Arden, NC and the Choristers Guild Institute, Dallas, TX. She is a guest conductor for festival children’s choirs and denominational church music camps and presents for music publishers and educational organizations, most recently at Westminster Choir College’s Kemp Symposium 2018. In August 2019 Karol led a children’s choir for the opening worship at the ELCA’s Church Wide Assembly in Milwaukee.



Paul Westermeyer

A Plenary panel session will be moderated by Paul Westermeyer.

Panel Discussion: Formation in Church Music

This panel will discuss the duties, delights, and challenges the church and especially its musical leaders encounter today. This encounter comes “in response to God’s revelation in Christ by the Spirit’s power . . . embodied . . . in the midst of the lamentations and injustices” of our world which include the “groaning of the earth itself.” The panel will address a few of the many issues this topic unleashes.

Paul Westermeyer is Emeritus Professor of Church Music, Cantor, and Director of the MSM at Luther Seminary. He is a graduate of Elmhurst College (BA), Lancaster Seminary (BD), Union Seminary’s School of Sacred Music (MSM), and The University of Chicago Divinity School (MA and PhD). His life’s work, studying and teaching about church music and the church musician, is reflected in books he has written which include The Church Musician (1988, rev. 1997); Let Justice Sing (1998); Te Deum: The Church and Music (1998); and Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2010).

























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