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Past Events of the Hymn Society

2022 Season


Sunday, November 13, 2022:  "The Medium is the Multitude:  Singing Through Marshall McLuhan", presented by President Christopher Dawes.  3:00 p.m. on-line event.


"Recent years have triggered the renewal of an older conversation around the use of hymn books, church bulletins, licensing services, projection screens and paperless music, by suddenly adding our personal computers and televisions, smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, the internet, on-line music sources and the advent of remote worship.  Is the hymn book dead?  Are there new opportunities to reach out and minister through newer media?  Are our already complex and fractured communities forever changed by including a potentially permanent remote component?  If so, how?"


Sunday, October 23, 2022:  "No Threadbare Song", The Art of Writing a Good Congregational Hymn.  Gathering at 2:30 p.m. at Islington United Church, Toronto with start at 3:00 p.m.  A hybrid presentation (both in person and on-line via YouTube)   Presenters:   Dr. Lydia Pedersen and Jane Best.


"Two published hymn writers will share their thoughts on what makes strong, vibrant tunes and texts.  Intended primarily for beginning hymn writers, the interactive session will touch on text/tune collaboration, pitfalls to avoid, and editing one's work.  Come sing, learn, ask questions, and be inspired to attend a future all-day workshop on crafting a good hymn."


Sunday, February 27, 2022:  "Koffee Klatsch", 3:00 p.m. on-line via Zoom.


A chance to gather together on-line to check in with friends and colleagues and welcome one another with a "pot luck" of hymn recordings that members have recommended; ones that have provided you or your congregation with inspiration.  We were treated to video of these hymns:


"Jesus, Lover of My Soul", set to the tune Aberystwyth, Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band.    

Psalm 19, "Your Words, Lord, Are Spirit and Life", Francesca LaRosa. 

"Transfiguration Hymn" by Larry Shackley sung by a high school choir from Augusta, Georgia

"We Gather Here Through Love Divine", set to the tune WEST PLAINS 150, tune written by Lianne Tan, hymn text by Ruth Duck.  In celebration of 150th Anniversary of West Plains United Church, Burlington.

And hymns written during the Covid Pandemic:

"Our Voices Have Been Silent", text by Lydia Pedersen, tune by Jane Best

"In Fear Our World is Weeping",  by Ruth Duck

"Let All That You Do Be Done in Love", by Jane Best

"O Day of Peace", text by Carl P. Daw Jr, tune by C. Hubert H. Parry (JERUSALEM)


2021 Season



Original Hymn Text and Tune with Organ Accompaniment- (Format “A”)

Winner: Do Not Fear composed by Robert Hall

Runner Up: An Ever Present Help In Trouble composed by Charles C. Cooke


Original Hymn Text and Tune with Piano or Instruments other than Organ - (Format “B”)

Winner:  Fear Not, For I Am With You composed by David Kai

Runner Up: Hymn to Equality composed by John Greer


Original Text to a Familiar Tune - (Format “C”)

Winner: Life Is a Road to Parts Unknown by text writer Linda Bonney Olin

Runner Up: Do Not Fear! by text writer Lydia Pedersen



Hymns affirming the LGBTQ1A2S+ Community, an online zoom gathering with guests Cedar Klassen, Mark Himmelman and friends.   2:30 p.m. log-in and social time, 3:00 p.m. program.

Hymns included:

"Blest Be the Holy Other",  tune: EVAN 8686 by Wm. Havergal text: by Dan Windham

"Quirky, Queer, and Wonderful", tune:  THE Q TUNE irregular by Sally Ann Morris, text by Adam M.L. Tice

"God of Many Faces", tune:  SLANE, text by Amy Cerniglia

"Love's Rage and Grief", tune: BANGOR 8686, text by Jeannette M. Lindholm

"For All the Children", text and tune by David Lohman Music 

"We Are the Hidden", tune: HIDDEN 9 11 9 11 by Megan Coiley, text by Slats Toole

"The Love That Goes Unspoken", tune: LLANGLOFFAN, text by Mary Louise Bringle

"I Shall Not Leave From By Your Side", tune:  PROSPECT, text by Chris Shelton

"Impartial, Compassionate God of All Lives", tune: ST. DENIO, text by Adrienne Stricker

"Sing a New World Into Being", tune 8 7 8 7 D by Brian Hehn, text by Mary Louise Bringle

instrumentation and/or vocals provided by membership on these examples of hymns taken from the collection of 46 hymns and worship songs, "Songs for the Holy Other:  Hymns Affirming the LGBTQ1A2S+ Community", 2019 

At end of program, APRIL 18, 2021 - LAUNCH OF HYMN COMPETITION

sponsored by SOCHS and the RCCO, Toronto Centre.  Closing submissions September 17.

Three categories:  Original Hymn Text & Tune with Organ accompaniment Prize of $300.

Original Hymn Text & Tune, piano accompaniment or instrument(s) other than Organ. Prize of $300.

Original Hymn Text to a familiar tune. Prize of $300.

Participants may submit one original hymn per category that has not been published previously (3 in total)

Supports congregational singing and uses language that promotes inclusivity

Speaks to the theme "strength and courage during adversity" and uses Isaiah 41:10 for inspiration:  "Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."                   


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2021 - “Exploring the Church Year: Celebrating the Creative Work of SOCHS Members “   virtual zoom event

membership was encouraged to join Fred Graham and the entire SOCHS Executive by submitting a recording of themselves singing a hymn tune or text written by our creative membership.  Instructions were given for recordings, and whether we managed to record ourselves or not, we joined in for a family hymn sing of ten (the list was very long, so it was condensed down to 10 hymns).


2020 Season


Sunday, November 22, 2020 – 6:45 p.m. new time VIRTUAL WINE AND CHEESE GATHERING via Zoom.  Members asked:   What good thing has happened to you recently? and/or Is there a hymn or other piece of music that has carried you through these challenging times?  Those favourite hymns were then played via video, with descriptions for any members attending via telephone.  Following that, a presentation of our roll-out plans for 2021.


Spring 2020:  With the declaration of a Global Pandemic by the World Health Organization on Thursday, March 12, 2020 and an Ontario Provincial stay-at-home order by Monday, March 16, 2020 churches and church musicians were sent reeling with how to conduct church via on-line methods.  Consequently, many church musicians were either out of work or working double-time learning new methods of recording hymns for virtual church services by either recording audio/video or performing live, using YouTube or Zoom.   The learning curve was steep and all consuming for many.  Consequently, our meetings did not resume until November, 2020.


2019  Season 


2:30 PM Sunday, November 17 Islington United Church, 25 Burnhamthorpe Road, Etobicoke (Near the Islington Subway. Parking available.) 

What’s Old and What’s New: evolution of hymns for worship Jason Locke, Minister of Music at Islington United, and Dr. Fred Graham, Deer Park Professor of Church Music at Emmanuel College (ret.), will co-lead 75 minutes of singing new texts to old tunes, new texts with new tunes, and worship songs from the Two-Thirds World in recognition of the reverse flow of Christian song. The event is open to the public, parking is available 


2:30 PM Sunday, September 29 St Andrew's United Church, 117 Bloor Street East Look what they've done to my song, Ma! A retrospective of congregational song from the past 25 years from a musician’s perspective. Sharon L Beckstead recently retired as a Church musician/Minister of music after 25 years at Leaside United Church, Toronto. Previously she served in music ministry in Edmonton (Highlands United) and Winnipeg. 


2017-2018 SEASON 


Sunday, April 22nd, 2018, 2:30 to 4:40 pm at St. Andrews United Church, 117 Bloor St. East, Toronto: "How Can I Keep from Singing?" - Mark Ruhnke reflects on his doctoral focus "To Sing or Not to Sing, Again." He asks "How might we encourage healthy, supportive congregational singing?" - in St. Andrews UC, Toronto, - Refreshments at 2:30 pm. Program from 300 - 4:30 p 


Sunday, February 11th, 2018, 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm - A Big Canadian Hymnsing with Fred Graham, Bev Killen, Catherine Ambrose - in Eden United Church, Winston Churchill Blvd at Battleford Rd, Mississauga 




Sunday, October 15th, 2017, 2:30 to 4:30 pm at the Church of the Holy Trinity, 19 Trinity Square, Toronto, (behind the Eaton Centre,): "Songs from a Luther Pilgrimage" - Joan and Peter Wyatt reflect on their pilgrimage to Luther's homelands. Refreshments at 2 pm. 


April 23rd, 2017 - 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm - Islington United Church, 25 Burnamthorpe Rd. Toronto. Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Confederation. Join Margaret Leask and friends on a romp through the music of Canada's early days. 


February 26th, 2017 - Salvation Army Headquarters, 2 Overlea Blvd. - 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm. "Sing a New Song" - Craig Lewis introduces the Salvation Army's new hymnal. 


October 30th, 2016 - Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto - 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm. "Heart Songs of the World". Saya Ojiri and Becca Whitla, sacred music students at Emmanuel, introduce hymns of Japan and Cuba. 


2014 – 2015 Season


Winter 2015: Songs of Love Sunday afternoon February 22, 2015, 3:00pm-4:30pm with refreshments at 2:30 at Eastminster United Church, Toronto, presented by the SOCHS Executive, co-sponsored by Eastminster United Church. From popular song to congregational song, love is never far from our hearts and minds. Let’s get together a week after Valentine’s Day and Family Day, have some hot drinks and chocolate, and sing of the joys and sorrows of love to take the chill off the Southern Ontario winter. 


Spring 2015: Worship in the City Sunday afternoon, 12 April 2015 3:00pm-4:30pm with refreshments at 2:30, Metropolitan UC, Toronto. Join SOCHS President Nancy Hardy for a clear-eyed look at worship in the city. Why do we invoke bucolic scenes as exemplary of God’s providence when so many of us live in the “hard-edged” city? Is God not among us here and now? Nancy has studied our contradictory assumptions about rural and urban life and how these are manifest in our prayers and songs of worship. We’ll sing some newer and older hymns and songs that illustrate the theme. 


Fall 2014: "Footsteps in the Snow: Tracking Faith and Song in the High Arctic" Saturday November 8, 201410:00am-4:00pm at Emmanuel College, Victoria University in the University of Toronto. Lori-Anne Dolloff, Associate Professor, Music Education at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, and Raigelee Alorut, World Music Artist in Residence at the University of Toronto, shared experiences derived from her work with the Cathedral faith community in Iqaluit, tracing colonial and post-colonial influences on the music used in worship today. This event was co-sponsored by Emmanuel College and the Southern Ontario Chapter of the Hymn Society. Other Events of Interest Compline Services, selected Friday Evenings at St. Mary Magdalene's in honour of female saints and near saints, led by Schola Magdalena. 


Fall 2014: A Visioning Social Event for Members and Friends Sunday 21 September at 3:00-4:30pm with refreshments at 2:30, St. Andrew's United Church, 117 Bloor Street East, Toronto. It is a time of rapid and profound change in the worlds of church music and worship. SOCHS is well placed to feel the effects of this change, and to influence the direction of our response to it. Incoming President of SOCHS Nancy Hardy and other members of the SOCHS executive committee were joined by guests and members for conversations, refreshments, some hymn singing and some hard talk about where we have been and where we are going as we look ahead to our 17th season! 


2012 – 2013 Season


Pause, Reflect, Renew: A Liturgy and Song Retreat Friday-Saturday, June 14-15, 2013, at Convent of Saint John the Divine, 233 Cummer Ave., Toronto, Ontario M2M 2E8 Sadly, this event was cancelled.


 Fabulous New Psalter Released Friday-Saturday, February 22-23, 2013, at Emmanuel College, 75 Queen's Park Crescent, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 "Psalms Galore: a Workshop Introducing Psalms for all Seasons" celebrates the 2011 release of a new Psalter, Psalms for all Seasons. See details at Introducing Psalms for all Seasons. 


100th-Anniversary Hymn Festival Sunday, October 21, 2012, 2:30 p.m. at Humbercrest United Church, 16 Baby Point Road, Toronto, Ontario M6S 3E9 Hymn Festival with Music for Congregation, Choir, Brass and Organ. The singing began at 3:00 following a pre-festival concert of music for brass and organ. Celebrating the centennial of the congregation of Humbercrest, commentator and professor of church history Phyllis Airhart gave an extensive and fascinating commentary on hymns of importance to the denominations that came together in 1925 and later to form the United Church of Canada. Fred Graham, organist, Venabrass brass ensemble and singers of the Humbercrest Chancel Choir, conducted by Melvin Hurst, provided leadership to a group of 150 enthusiastic hymn singers in attendance. 


Food, Conversation and Ideas about Hymn Festivals Sunday, September 23, 2012, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Kingsway-Lambton United Church, 85 The Kingsway, Toronto, Ontario M8X 2T6 Social with Mel Hurst on planning hymn festivals. Refreshments at 2:30. There is no fee for this event. Members and friends of SOCHS heard Mel Hurst, a master of the hymn festival, give a compelling talk on how to put one together. A brief business meeting followed to confirm new members of the SOCHS executive committee. The following minute of appreciation for outgoing executive committee members was approved: "Whereas Fred Graham, past president, and Rachael Boles, John Derksen and Paul Stott, members at large of the Executive of the Southern Ontario Chapter of the Hymn Society have given freely of their time and expertise over the past years to provide leadership to SOCHS and have contributed immeasurably to the health of the organization and the quality of its activities, "Therefore, on behalf of the membership of SOCHS, I move that we show our appreciation to Fred, Rachael, John and Paul as they complete their terms on the executive committee in terms of a very big thank you for all they have done for the organization and signify this by a round of applause and note to this effect on our website and in our newsletter." 


2010 - 2011 Season 

FALL; Hymns, hers and humor- Members' social and humorous hymns with Lydia Pedersen 

HYMN FESTIVAL: When in our music God is glorified: Hymns by SOCHS members, narrated by radio personality Judy Maddren 

WINTER: The hymns we sing: Sisters of the Convent of St. John the Divine

SPRING: Jazz in worship: Tim Elliot, Brian Barlo


2008 - 2009 Season 

HYMN FESTIVAL: Great hymns of faith: A tenth anniversary celebration of SOCHS, including hymn competition winners 

WINTER; Calvin @500: Bert Polman 

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