Writing the Church's Song 2024

10/27/2024 - 10/30/2024


Hymn-writing retreat in the Rocky Mountains.


October 27-30, 2024
Sedalia, CO (just south of Denver)

Our hosts will be Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House, a Jesuit retreat house who have been welcoming people of all faiths for over sixty years.


$480 Full Registration Fee (includes 3 nights lodging & all meals)

$325 No-Lodging Registration Fee (includes lunch & dinner for each day)

*two needs-based full scholarships are available. Contact ccs@thehymnsociety.org to inquire.

Lodging & Food: “Attractive simplicity, comfortable furnishings and beautiful architecture provide a warm welcoming ambiance. We have fifty private rooms, with bath and restroom facilities centrally located in each corridor. Each room has a double or single bed, side table, armchair, desk, dresser, sink and individual temperature controls for both heating and air conditioning.
The retreat house is smoke-free and accessible for people who use wheelchairs or walkers. Nutritious meals that offer a variety of foods are prepared in the retreat house kitchen and served cafeteria style. Complimentary beverages and light snacks are always available in the main dining room. Our kitchen staff will work with you to accommodate food allergies and dietary restrictions.” – From their website. For more information and pictures click here.


Text & Tune Writing – Dan Damon, FHS
Dan Damon is an internationally published writer of hymn texts and tunes. As an outgrowth of his work as a pastor in an urban, multi-cultural setting, much of Dan’s work focuses on social justice issues. His musical voice is eclectic, incorporating a wide variety of styles from traditional four-part writing to jazz lead sheets. Dan says that his writing is part of his prayer life. His goal when writing congregational song is “to keep things simple and singable while exploring the edges of our spoken and sung faith.”

Dan is Associate Editor of Hymnody for Hope Publishing Company. He is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, retired July 1, 2020. A jazz pianist, Dan performs regularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also taught church music at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. In 2016 Dan was named a Fellow of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. He enjoys helping writers of congregational song to develop their craft.

As a boy, Dan learned to play gospel hymns at the Evangelical Free Church in Rapid City, South Dakota. He studied at Greenville College (BME) and Pacific School of Religion (MDiv). For twenty years Dan studied privately with jazz pianist Dick Hindman. Each week they harmonized jazz standards and Dan’s new hymn tunes as they were being written.

Dan’s hymn texts and tunes appear in many current denominational hymnals and supplements. He has eight single-author collections; his most recent is Look at the Light (2023, Hope Publishing). He has also edited a collection of short congregational songs and responses (At Your Altars, Hope Publishing, 2014). Dan is a contributor to the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology and The Hymn. His recordings are available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services.

Text Writing – Richard Leach
Richard Leach is the author of “Come, Join the Dance of Trinity”, which is widely sung in hymn and anthem settings on Trinity Sunday every year. “We know the yoke of sin and death,/our necks have worn it smooth./Go tell the world of weight and woe/that we are free to move” is one of its key quatrains.  “Come, Join the Dance…” is one of Richard’s many published works, which are found in denominational hymnals, stand-alone collections, and anthem settings. He has also written the texts of several cantatas, a requiem, and secular art song.

Richard is a retired pastor, ordained in the United Church of Christ and now a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He began writing hymn texts in the mid-1980s, inspired by the work of Brian Wren, Thomas Troeger, and Jaroslav Vajda. He joined the Hymn Society at that time, and has collaborated with, become friends with, and been inspired by many of its members. He seeks the sound of surprise, with biblical and theological integrity, and careful craft, in his hymn-writing. That is his goal in preaching as well, which he continues to do when called upon. Tuned for Your Sake, Banquet Without Walls, and Enough for All, all from Selah Publishing, comprise his collected texts.

Richard is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Princeton Theological Seminary. He writes secular poetry as well as sacred, and is a visual artist whose medium is collage. He lives in Stamford, Connecticut with his wife, Beverly. Richard and Beverly have two adult sons and three grandchildren.


Hospitality & Logistics – Brian Hehn
Brian is an inspiring song-leader equally comfortable leading an acapella singing of “It Is Well” as he is drumming and dancing to “Sizohamba Naye.” Experienced using a variety of genres and instrumentations, he has lead worship for Baptists, Roman Catholics, United Methodists, Presbyterians, and many more across the U.S. and Canada. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Wingate University, his Master of Sacred Music from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and is certified in children’s church music (K-12) by Choristers Guild. He has articles published on sacred music and congregational song in multiple journals and co-authored the book All Hands In: Drumming the Biblical Narrative, published by Choristers Guild. While working for The Hymn Society as the Director of The Center for Congregational Song, he is also Director of Liturgical Worship & Adult Discipleship at St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Phoenix, Maryland and adjunct professor of church music at Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina. Brian lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Eve, and children Jakob and Clara.


2:00PM to 5:00PM – Arrival & Room Check-In
5:30PM – Dinner
8:00PM – Orientation & Opening Worship

Monday & Tuesday
8:00AM – Breakfast
8:45AM – Opening Worship
9:00AM – Plenary Session 1
10:00AM – One-On-One Sessions, Workshop Option, Free Writing Time
11:30AM – Mass (optional)
12:00PM – Lunch
2:00PM – Plenary Session 2
3:00PM – One-On-One Sessions & Free Writing Time
5:30PM – Dinner
8:00PM – Participant Sharing & Feedback Session
9:00PM – Evening Prayer

8:00AM – Breakfast
9:00AM – Final Gathering & Anointing Service
10:00AM – Check-Out & Departure (Must check out by 11AM)