Three hymn-writing panelists share practical tips and inspiration Reply

Some three dozen people tuned in via Zoom August 15, 2021, for “When in Our Music God Is Glorified,” a panel presentation on hymn writing, sponsored by the Presbyterian Writers Guild. The panel featured three renowned Presbyterian hymn writers, who talked about their favorite hymns, writing techniques, and sources of inspiration.

David Gambrell said that when he is writing hymns, “the best ideas feel like a gift.” He added, “But then there’s a lot of work.” Gambrell is associate for worship in the PC(USA)’s Office of Theology, Formation and Evangelism, principal writer of the church’s new Directory for Worship and author of several hymns in the Glory to God hymnal.

Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle said hymn writing is a spiritual discipline for her. “I have to have a tune in my head first,” before writing the words, she said. Bringle is chair of the Glory to God hymnal committee and author of several hymns in the book.

Chris Shelton said he finds inspiration in older hymns. “I like to be in conversation with hymnwriters of the past.” Shelton is pastor of Broadway Presbyterian Church in New York City and author of the new book Sing No Empty Alleluias.

Read the Presbyterian News Service story about the hymn-writing panel here.

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