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Ruth C. Duck Honored as Fellow by Hymn Society

December 5, 2013

Originally published by The Hymn Society in the United States

Ruth C. Duck has been honored by The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada at its annual conference in Richmond from July 14-18, 2013, by being named a Fellow of The Hymn Society. This award, the highest honor given by the organization, was conferred because of Duck’s pioneering work in inclusive language for worship, her preeminence as a hymn poet and teacher, and her significant contributions to The Society.

Born in Washington, DC, Ruth Duck earned degrees from Southwestern University, Memphis, Tennessee (B.A.), Chicago Theological Seminary, Illinois (M.Div.), University of Notre Dame, Indiana (M.A.), and Boston University School of Theology, Massachusetts (Th.D.).Her areas of study included Christian education, liturgy, and worship; her doctoral work was on the Trinitarian baptismal formula. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Duck served churches in Hartford and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently she is Professor of Worship at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois; her teaching areas have included congregational song, healing and reconciliation, and worship and the arts.

Duck began her hymn writing by adapting older hymns with language that was more inviting. She edited several inclusive language hymn collections, including Everflowing Streams: Songs for Worship (1981). Her work as a hymn text writer has now spanned over 40 years. She has written over 150 hymns and psalm paraphrases, which have appeared in many hymnals and supplements in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Scotland, and England. Her most recent project is a textbook on worship, Worship for the Whole People of God: Vital Worship for the 21st Century (Westminster John Knox Press, 2013). Robin Knowles Wallace, Professor at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Delaware, OH, notes: “[Her] hymn texts and worship resources call for a world that looks more like God's vision for the world, with flourishing nature, especially birds, and flourishing human relationships based on justice, mercy, and love.”

Reflecting on her work, Duck writes, “Teaching and learning about Christian liturgy is endlessly fascinating. Students are passionate about the praise and worship of God and eagerly discuss questions from the meaning of baptism to the place of announcements in worship. Prayer, preaching, and the breaking of bread are common threads of Christian worship, while contrasting textures of worship styles from varied cultures and traditions show how the gospel is incarnate in particular contexts. For all these reasons, studying worship is exciting; above all, teaching and learning about worship inspire awe and humility, because as planners and leaders of congregational praise, we share in the Spirit's labor to draw humanity into just and loving relationship with God and all creation.” (

Founded in 1922, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada is an ecumenical organization of people who are passionate about hymns and congregational song. We recognize the importance of the people’s song in worship and want to assure its vitality in the future. The Hymn Society community, open to all, is made up of scholars, church musicians, poets, composers, choir directors, choir members, clergy, worship planners, song leaders, music publishers, music educators, and people who love to sing. The mission of The Hymn Society is to encourage, promote, and enliven congregational singing.

For further information about The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, contact Deborah Carlton Loftis, Executive Director, 3400 Brook Road, Richmond, VA 02215 or call 800-THE-HYMN. Please visit the website at