If you met us fifteen years ago, we would not have described ourselves as song writers. We were in separate locations at different stages in our careers. Lynn was a Professor of Music at Iowa State University, teaching music theory classes and mentoring individual organ students, as well as serving as an organist at a local church. Charles was wrapping up a career in higher education and becoming a caregiver for his wife who was recovering from a brain tumor.
In 2008 we met again; we knew each other from the 1970s when Lynn was organist at the church where Charles was a member. What blossomed into a music ministry began when Lynn mentioned that her daughter, recently married, had failed to find a wedding text for her favorite hymn tune, REPTON. Charles volunteered to write one. That began our partnership of Charles writing texts and Lynn creating tunes for congregational songs.
Why do we write songs? Four reasons stand out for us.
- We feel called to this “hymn project.” It is a music ministry for us.
- Each of us believes that we are to use our specific gifts for and to the glory of God and congregations. As Lynn says, “I know how to give performances. When I play for a worship service, I am one among many offering our gifts.”
- During our years of involvement in congregations of different denominations, sizes, and locations (around the world), we concluded that too many don’t understand the mission of the Church. Its purpose, we believe, is Jesus Christ calling us to be his disciples. We respect the past, but hold that every generation of disciples must speak and act in ways that are transformative for their time.
- Our logo portrays three disciples journeying on this earth. As a minister and seminary president, Charles, and Lynn, as an organist playing for many baptisms, weddings, and funerals, know disciples experience the highs and lows of everyday life. Hymns need to meet, realistically as well as artistically, the needs of those who are shedding tears of grief as well as tears of joy. And yes, we pray our songs reach those who hold their pain inside. You, like us, may feel you are an alien on the planet. With fresh words, we want to offer a comforting as well as confronting witness when our world is bombarded by unspeakable international tragedies of war, terrorism, and genocide. We are numbed by media excesses, consumerism without limits, sexual conduct without consequences, and political power without ethics or civility. Our hymns call for courage for today and tomorrow rather than a retreat to a nostalgic church of the past. Ironically, too many current “religious songs” provide repeated biblical phrases rather than biblical insights. We had a leading biblical scholar assess our texts for theological integrity. That said, we also want our hymns to be relevant to secular audiences and strive to make texts and tunes speak to persons of all and no faith traditions.