Redlands, California. Daniel Charles Damon has been honored by The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (The HSUSC) at its annual conference in Redlands, California, July 17-21, 2016, by being named a Fellow of The Hymn Society. This award, the highest honor given by the organization, was conferred because of Damon’s work as a hymn-text writer, hymn-tune composer, editor, and teacher, as well as his significant contributions to The HSUSC.
Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, Damon studied at Greenville College (BME) and Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley (MDiv). An ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, he is currently serving as pastor at First United Methodist Church, Richmond, California. Damon is also Associate Editor of Hymnody for Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, Illinois. He is a jazz pianist and has played in many hotels and clubs in the San Francisco Bay area. He teaches on an adjunct basis at the Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California.
Damon is an internationally published writer of hymn texts and tunes. His work has been included in many major hymnals and supplements. He has several single-author collections: Faith Will Sing (1993), The Sound of Welcome (1998), To the Thirsty World (2002), Fields of Mercy (2007), and Garden of Joy (2011). He recently edited a collection of short congregational songs and responses, At Your Altars (2014), and has created Jazz Worship, an online collection of jazz arrangements of traditional hymn tunes and carols specifically designed for congregational singing. Although Damon usually writes both hymn texts and tunes, he also enjoys working with other textwriters. He collaborated with Gracia Grindal on a Treasury of Faith: Lectionary Hymns, New Testament, Series A (2011). With Patrick Matsikenyiri, he edited Njalo, A Collection of 16 Hymns in the African Tradition (2007). Working with native speakers, Damon has also written hymn translations from Vietnamese, Portuguese, Japanese, and the Shona language. He has released several recordings of hymns, carols, traditional songs, along with a solo piano recording of jazz standards (available at www.dandamonmusic.com
). Damon has co-authored two articles for the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology on social gospel hymnody, USA; and jazz and congregational song, USA.
As an outgrowth of his work as a pastor in an urban, multi-cultural setting, much of Damon’s work focuses on social justice issues, with texts such as “Speak to a tattooed man,” “When Jesus was a refugee,” and “When human life is bought and sold.” His musical voice is eclectic, incorporating a wide variety of styles from traditional four-part writing to jazz lead sheets. Damon states 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.”
Founded in 1922, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada is an ecumenical, non-profit 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. We believe that the holy act of singing together shapes faith, heals brokenness, transforms lives, and renews peace. Our mission, therefore, is to encourage, promote, and enliven congregational song.
For further information about The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, contact Deborah Carlton Loftis, Executive Director, 8040 Villa Park Drive, Suite 250, Henrico, Virginia 23228, or call 800-THE-HYMN. Please visit our website at www.thehymnsociety.org