Milligan Hymn Festival includes concert, lecture by renowned hymn writer

Published 11:20 am Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Milligan University’s area of music will host the Milligan Hymn Festival on Thursday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 3. The weekend will include a lecture by renowned hymn writer Dr. Mary Louise Bringle and a concert, “How Great Thou Art,” featuring the Milligan University Orchestra, Concert Choir and Heritage, along with local high school singers and church choirs. Both events are free and open to the public.
“Milligan’s Hymn Festival will celebrate the vital importance of hymns in our worship,” said Dr. Kellie Brown, Milligan’s area chair of music. “The concert will feature well-known hymns that have served the church for a century or more, in addition to more recent hymns by writers who want to continue the tradition and be relevant to 21st century congregations.”
The festival will kick off with Bringle’s lecture on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Walker Auditorium in Seeger Chapel. Bringle will discuss her process as a hymn writer, as well as the vital importance of hymns in worship.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Mary Louise Bringle to campus,” said Brown. “In her hymns, she is able to capture the voice of the psalmist in all the conditions and situations that we Christians find ourselves.”
Bringle serves as the chair of the humanities division at Brevard College. For over 20 years, she has been a much-celebrated writer of hymn texts and is known for creating new traditional worship music that is relevant to 21st century congregations. Her award-winning texts come from her training as a theologian, her life’s work as an educator and her heart for the church. She has served as president of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and received their highest award in 2020.
Milligan’s area of music will be joined by local church choirs and high schoolers for “How Great Thou Art,” a concert celebrating various favorite hymns of the past and present on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary B. Martin Auditorium in Seeger Chapel.
The concert will feature hymns such as “Then Sings My Soul (How Great Thou Art),” “Amazing Grace,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” The concert will feature hymns written by Bringle, as well as one hymn written by Milligan alumna Dr. Barbara Hamm (’67). Hamm’s hymn was written in response to Bringle’s address to the Hymn Society Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas, in 2019.
The concert features performances by the Milligan Orchestra, directed by Dr. Kellie Brown; the Milligan Concert Choir and Heritage, both directed by Dr. Noah DeLong; guest organists Robert J. Greene Jr. from First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn., and Nick Andrews from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Johnson City; and a festival choir.
The festival choir will be comprised of singers from David Crockett High School, Daniel Boone High School, Mountain View Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Johnson City, Grandview Christian Church and First Broad Street United Methodist Church.
“Our goal for this concert is to bring a message of hope and peace to our campus and to the broader community,” said DeLong. “By including both old and new hymns, we hope this event can contribute to the rich heritage of worship that has been a hallmark of the church both past, present and future.”

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