Saturday, May 15, 2010

Austin C. Lovelace

A memorial service will be held this afternoon in Denver for Austin Lovelace, organist, composer, and lover of hymns, who died on April 25 at the age of 91. He was active in the American Guild of Organists and was one of the organizers and first president of the National Fellowship of Methodist Musicians (now called the Fellowship of United Methodists in Worship and Music Arts). He taught hymnology and church music courses at various seminaries and colleges. Though he had retired from his last full-time director of music position at Denver's Wellshire Presbyterian Church in 1986, he continued to lecture, concertize, and serve as a substitute organist in many places until just a few years ago.

He is probably most widely known for his many choral anthems and arrangements, but he was involved in all aspects of church music and also composing for organ and solo voice. He chaired the committee that chose the tunes for the 1964 Methodist Hymnal, which included 34 from his own pen, both original and arrangements. His tunes migrated to the hymnals of other denominations over the next several years. He also wrote books, including the short but very useful The Anatomy of Hymnody (1965) which may be sampled on Google Books.

Lovelace was also a past president of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. The Society sponsors a scholarship fund in his name; each year several students of hymnody are chosen as recipients, allowing them to attend (and sometimes present their research at) the Society's annual conference. He will definitely be missed at their conference this summer.

One Year Ago: Samuel Webbe

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