Walter Brueggemann
Rev. Dr. M. Franklin Dotts
Ann Gerdom
Jerry Hebenstreit
Don Hofford
David Hurd, Jr
Jeff Johnson
Gene LeVasseur
Rev. Gerald O’Connor
Rev. Jonathan Page
Bryan J. Sirchio
Michael Surratt
Rev. Ken Wells
Don Wishart


“Re: Songs for Disciples by Charles Kniker and Lynn Zeigler.  The appearance of Songs for Disciples is a most welcome arrival. Kniker and Zeigler have paid careful attention to their theological lyrics. They are well grounded in faith and are alert to the issues before the church that concern engaged discipleship. I anticipate that this collection will serve well the nurture and empowerment of serious gospel living. These poetic cadences will open artistic dimensions of faith where the Spirit sojourns”         

            Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary


“Creative . . .Solid . . . Dignified . . . Sound theologically . . . Well-grounded in Scripture . . . Sincere . . . Meaningful . . . Relevant . . . Refreshingly new and current . . . Rich variety on a wide range of topics . . . Easy-to-use . . . . .I could go on and on! These are my immediate thoughts as I have reviewed, yet again, the beautiful words written by Charles Kniker in this collection of hymns. As a professional editor, my role has been to review the texts in this collection. Only a few writers have the ability to “build” with words: to build “word pictures” . . . to build “words that flow together” . . . to build “words that touch, move, inspire” . . . to build “words that dedicate, activate, send” . . . to build “words with deep meaning.” Even fewer writers have the ability to do all of the above using the poetic structure and meter required when setting texts to tunes. Charles Kniker has that ability and has done it all!

This collection will bring a new breath of fresh air into congregations as they worship God. With these new words and, in many cases, both new and familiar alternative tunes to choose from, they will have the opportunity to combine the new and the old as they work their way into this new collection.    I know one thing! I want to be there when these hymns are sung in worship all over this country!”

The Rev. Dr. M. Franklin Dotts  (South Carolina)


“Charles R. Kniker and Lynn J. Zeigler have blended a lifetime of experience with the fountain of youth. They’ve composed hymns that speak clearly to the 21st century with the depth and richness of the Psalms and classic hymns.   The refrain to their advent hymn states it beautifully:  “Awake to change that’s heaven sent. Revive your soul with this advent.”  I assure you that you will embrace these hymns with open arms and enjoy the incredible and delightful variety that both artists express so masterfully.”

            Gene LeVasseur, Worship Director, ECLA congregation, South Dakota


“Love your song ‘Ring the Bells!’  We so desperately need some alternative ways to deal with the 4th of July and patriotism in the Church at this point.  Well done!”

“You’re both obviously gifted and that I think many congregations will appreciate knowing about what you’ve got to offer.”

Regarding “The Dream of Peace,” a Good Friday hymn, “Nice job in verse 3 of your text offering an understanding of the cross that is not about “penal substitutionary atonement!”  Not an easy thing to do in so few words…  Bravo!”

                Bryan J. Sirchio, hymnwriter and UCC pastor, author of The Six Marks of Progressive Christian Worship Music


“I had the opportunity to arrange for a review of a group of the Kniker/Zeigler hymns by members of two congregations, one in Washington, IL, the other in Sun City West, AZ.  The participants were enthusiastic about their assignment and equally impressed with the quality of the words and music.  They fully appreciated the depth of meaning in the words and the just-right music to accompany them. They anxiously await their publication.”

            Don Hofford, church musician, IL (in ELCA congregations)


“I’m really pleased to see these hymns being developed. I see a strong need for music that combines the more metrical forms of traditional hymns with modern insights into our relationship with God and how we faithfully live out that relationship in daily life. These hymns do that well, using lyrical melodies and penetrating texts to help us express more fully our lives as Disciples in an evolving era of belief. Older hymns still hold many deep truths, but the retelling of those truths for modern sensibilities will prove valuable as the churches reach out to new generations.”

            Jerry Hebenstreit, layperson, Vocal Choir, Handbell Choir and Praise Band member, United Christian Parish of Reston, VA


“I would like to commend Dr. Charles R. Kniker and Lynn J. Zeigler for their effort to bring new life into the songs of faith.  The words of their hymns convey a contemporary theological perspective; wonderful NEW words for new times.”

            Gerald O’Connor, former chaplain at a retirement community, Florida


“This new collection provides hymn choices for Sundays and themes in the Church Year that are often difficult to find.  The new texts provide fresh images and expressions of classic liturgical themes.  The new tunes are not difficult to learn, and many of the hymns may be sung to tunes that are already familiar to most congregations.  I recommend that you consider this collection for your congregation.”

            Michael Surratt, Director of Music Emeritus, Union Church of Hinsdale, IL; Organist, First United Church of Oak Park, IL.


“Hooray for hymnody! Kniker and Zeigler have put together a collection that fills the need for hymns that are theologically relevant, sensitive to the church calendar, and have a passionate social justice edge. The accompanying tunes meld well with the words and are easy for a congregation to sing.”

            Rev. Jonathan Page, Minister, First Congregational Church, Houston, TX


“The hymn tunes, texts and the Biblical stories they are based on blend well together.  There is something here for every season and special occasion of the year.  Well balanced and singable.  Having grown up in the Evangelical & Reformed tradition, I especially enjoyed “We Stand For Love” which helps celebrate all the Reformation represents.”

             Retired UCC Pastor


“Refreshing, ‘singable,” a nice variety of styles and flavor for the whole liturgical year.”

            A Midwestern college professor of music


“Members of the Iowa State University family have praised the ISU Alumni Association for incorporating this original and thoughtful hymn into the annual Iowa State University Wall of Alumni and Friends ceremony.  The hymn fully expresses the thoughts and encapsulates the emotions many are finding difficult putting into words during this time of loss, release, and praise.  Its lyrics and tune are nothing short of a warm embrace and a gently spoken word … from Him and all concerned.  Iowa Staters are grateful to Lynn and Charles for allowing this song to be used by the Association.”

            Jeff Johnson, President, Iowa State University Alumni Association


“I participated in an evening event at a local church where the assembly had opportunity to sing through several hymns.  Three things are memorable:  (1) the selections were almost immediately ‘singable,’ (2) lyrics used contemporary language, (3) lyrics were sensitive to current social issues.   In general, I think congregations would be comfortable with the hymns very quickly.  To non-musicians, I think it’s important to be able to anticipate where music is going and what’s coming next.  What we sang qualifies in that measure.”

            Don Wishart, church musician (in a Roman Catholic Church)


“This collection of hymns is a meaningful melding of words and music that reflect the Christian faith in the 21st century.  It would be a wonderful supplement to any congregation’s hymnal.”

            Ann Gerdom, Past Dean, Central Iowa Chapter, American Guild of Organists


“In a Memorial Day Ceremony dedicated to the memory of all faculty and staff members and their spouses/partners who died during the last year, we used the first three verses of the hymn, ‘We Now Give You Thanks.’  It was an excellent choice for the non-denominational setting.  The theme of each verse was appropriate and in a logical order for what the families and friends were experiencing.  They found the song meaningful and comforting.  We definitely would like to use it again!”

            Chair of Iowa State University’s retirees committee that sponsors the event


“I am awestruck by the lyrics, especially the acrostic  ‘A World of Time and Space.’”

            Rev. Ken Wells, local church pastor (Iowa)


On the healing hymn, “Ready,” which also speaks of facing a terminal illness – “The refrain is stunning.”               

Attendee at program of new hymns

Another attendee added, “So meaningful.  Good Friday perhaps.”


On “Inflame My Heart,” a general prayer, “I enjoyed the melody.” –

            Attendee at a program of new hymns

Another attendee on this, “Nice melody and good words, lovely guitar.”


On “Armor Us,” a social justice hymn,  and a “good marching, militant style.”

            An attendee at a program of new hymns


On the communion hymn, “One and All,” an observer at a program of new hymns noted, “enjoyed the pedal line.”


“With the explosion in church music over the past decade, worship leaders need direction as to which new hymns to consider for particular church seasons and theological topics.  The Theme and Scriptural Reference offered for each hymn within this collection enable such appropriate matching. Also, the artist’s thoughts surrounding the choice of words, phrasing, music, and instrumentation open the door to further understanding and enjoyment.”

             Pastor and Teacher, suburban Chicago area church


“Charles’ texts are topically highly focused, which may make them particularly useful in events and services which closely target those themes or the particular scriptures from which the texts derive their inspiration.  It is easy to imagine that several of these texts might well support Sunday school curricula, be included in pageants, or be studied and sung in adult education situations.  Lynn’s musical settings are harmonically straightforward and conventional in style.  They may easily be played on the keyboard or sung in parts.  . . . .   The oboe/flute descant for Hand in Hand is a nice touch.  Congratulations on these additions to the hymn repertory of our time.”

            David Hurd, Jr


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