About Concordia

Center for Church Music

Church Music in a Liturgical Perspective

The Beginnings

The Center for Church Music was dedicated on October 18, 2010 (photo below) and is presently located in the Klinck Memorial Library on the campus of Concordia University Chicago. See map.Center for Church Music Ribbon Cutting

The Center came into being as the result of two extraordinary gifts to the University—one from Dr. Carl and Noël Schalk and another from the family of the late Dr. Richard Hillert.

To help establish the Center, the Hillerts presented to the University (as a permanent loan) the  manuscripts and published compositions of Dr. Hillert, distinguished professor emeritus of music at Concordia. A noted Lutheran composer, Hillert is probably best known for his “Holy Communion, Setting 1” including “Worthy Is Christ,” the canticle known as “This is the feast.”

To further establish the Center, the Carl Schalk American Lutheran Hymnal Collection was gifted to the University, encompassing more than 530 volumes including Lutheran hymnals in English, German, Norwegian and Swedish, published in the United States and the Pennsylvania colony as early as 1786; in Germany between 1726 and 1787; and in Australia since 1936. It includes the first editions from the presses of important early American printers and publishers including Christopher Sauer, Peter Leibert and Michael Billmeyer. Since then the Center has added to its onsite collections on loan the 

The Center serves as  a repository for special collections and works by history’s influential Christian church musicians, including significant contributions by American Lutherans.  As a locus for the study of church music, the Center will also disseminate papers and monographs for conferences such as CUC’s annual Vi Messerli Memorial Lectures in Church Music.

Through its work, the Center extends the legacy of a gifted generation of Lutheran church musicians. It seeks to foster an appreciation and understanding of the Church’s song among pastors, musicians, and laity, all the while encouraging the next generation of composers of sacred music.


Foundational Statements

The work of the Center for Church Music is based on the following convictions:

  • Worship is the center of the Church’s life. It is what the Church is a worshiping community and from that glowing center flow all aspects of the Church’s life and mission.
  • For Lutherans, worship is centered in Word and Sacrament. Lutherans celebrate Holy Communion each Sunday and festival, in addition to providing regular occasions for the observance of historic non-Eucharistic worship centered in readings from Scripture, psalms, prayers, and hymns and canticles.
  • Lutherans stand unapologetically in the liturgical tradition of the Church. As such its worship is shaped by the church year, appointed readings, the singing of psalms, and a basic core of hymnody. Lutheran worship is characterized by neither faddishness or novelty but values stability and continuity with the historic Church.
  • Music in Lutheran worship is a vehicle for the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel and the praise of God. God is praised when the Gospel is proclaimed, and when the Gospel is proclaimed, that is the way God is rightly praised.
  • Congregational song in liturgy and hymns is the central focus of music in Lutheran worship. A sung liturgy and vibrant congregational singing are the norm in Lutheran worship. At the same time Lutheran worship welcomes the contribution of organ, choirs, and instruments, and the work of composers as they are centered in the liturgy and congregational song.

What We're Doing

In support of these convictions the Center for Church Music is involved in a number of educational activities:

  • Presentations
    • Including some during the CUC’s annual Vi Messerli Memorial Lectures in Church Music
  • Online publications
  • Print Publications
    • Monographs and books, some in partnership with established publishers
      • “Shaping American Lutheran Church Music” series
      • "Essays in American Church Music" – David Music & Paul Westermeyer (A partnership with MorningStar Music Publications)
  • Resource acquisition and cataloging
    • Constantly adding important publications to the Center’s resource room
    • Manuscript libraries of important American Lutheran composers and hymn writers are being organized and acquired by the Center
  • Digital initiative
    • Creating global awareness and facilitate online research
    • Involving both the hymnal collection and the composer/hymn writer manuscript collections
    • Also including hymn festival recordings
  • Encouraging the next generation
    • Hillert Award in Composition
      • This award encourages young composers to write for the Church's liturgy and congregational song.
    • Schalk Scholars
      • Stipends for research projects, both large and small, in the area of study in congregational song
  • Webinars on practical church music topics
  • Fundraising for these various activities

Give Now

Thank you for your support

Meet the Director

Barry Bobb
Barry Bobb
Email: Barry.Bobb@CUChicago.edu

Steven Wente

Steven Wente, DMus, professor of music and chair of the University’s Music Department: “This dedication is the realization of a long-held dream of the CUC music department. One of the benefits of the center is that it has the potential to bring the name of Concordia University to a larger community in the church.  We envision that various individuals and groups interested in church music will want to know of the resources available for study here.”

John F. Johnson

“Music and song play a vital role throughout history as well as today,” former University President, John F. Johnson. “The collections and works found within The Center for Church Music will provide students, scholars and church musicians with a lasting heritage of music, today and well into the future.”

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