Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Carl P. Daw, Jr.

Today is the birthday of Carl Pickens Daw, Jr., one of my favorite contemporary hymnwriters. Born in Louisville, KY in 1944, he taught for eight years at the College of William and Mary in Virginia before entering seminary. Following his ordination in the Episcopal Church he served congregations in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

While serving as an advisor to the Text Committee for the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 he began to write hymns of his own, some of which appeared in the final volume. He also wrote an essay on The Spirituality of Anglican Hymnody in the Hymnal 1982 Companion. He has served as Secretary and Chair of the Episcopal Standing Commission on Church Music. Since 1996 he has been the Executive Director of the
Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, serving as a sort of ambassador for hymnody who frequently lectures on the subject around the world. He will be retiring this coming fall from that position.

I would guess that most hymnals published in the last twenty years include at least some of his hymns. Recently here on the blog I referred to O day of peace that dimly shines, sung to C.H.H. Parry's tune JERUSALEM. Another popular hymn, Like the murmur of the dove's song, has also been sung by several denominations. If you go to the "hymnody" section of the
website of Hope Publishing and search on Daw's name you can see many of his other hymn texts (first you'll have to click on an agreement not to reproduce them, then find his name in the drop-down menu).

His texts are contemporary without being trendy, generally inclusive and welcoming, but grounded in scriptural reference. Hope Publishing has brought out four collections of his hymns, any of which would be worth your attention:

A Year of Grace: Hymns for the Church Year (1990)
To Sing God's Praise (1992)
New Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1996)
Gathered for Worship (2006)

For more of his ideas on hymns and hymnody you can read his Thoughts About Choosing Hymns for Worship online, as well as an interview of sorts: Hymn Writing is Alive and Well.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Daw!


AuntE said...

Both of the texts you mentioned are included in the current Book of Praise (c. 1997). Thank you for teaching me a little about this man.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

He's a nice guy, and seems to have been a great Hymn Society Ex Dir. I met him briefly a couple years ago in his/the Society's office at Boston U, bought my copies of Gather Comprehensive II and the 1991 Baptist Hymnal from him on that occasion, I believe. I really must get his collections.

Leland aka Haruo

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