Posted by Philip Poole on 2010-03-08

The new Celebrating Grace hymnal has a distinctive Samford University flair. The hymnal, being released publicly March 7-9, included several Samford alumni, faculty and staff among the more than 50 theologians, church musicians, scholars and other professionals on the various committees that developed the hymnal and related products.

Milburn Price, retired dean of Samford’s School of the Arts, served as one of six major editors on the project editorial board. Paul Richardson, professor of music, was chair of the format and organization committee.

Mark Edwards, whose two children are Samford graduates and former members of Samford’s A Cappella Choir, was worship resource manager and chaired the supplemental resources committee. Edwards is retired minister of music at First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.

Samford was represented on each of the five committees involved with the Celebrating Grace project.

Bob Hatfield, who has three Samford degrees, served on the text and tunes committee. He is minister of music at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham.

Richard Suggs, a 1974 graduate and minister of music at First Baptist Church, Bowling Green, Ky., was on the supplemental resources committee.

Former Samford faculty member Deborah Loftis served on the format and organization committee chaired by Richardson. Loftis is now professor of church music at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Richmond, Va.

Gary Furr, an adjunct faculty member and pastor of Vestavia Hills Baptist Church in suburban Birmingham, was on the extra-musical worship materials committee.

Philip Poole, Samford’s executive director of university communication, has been serving on the product promotions and publicity committee.

The new hymnal features more than 600 hymns, songs and never-before-published pieces. Many were composed or arranged by Samford alumni and faculty, Price said. It also includes a new product, The Worship Matrix, a planning tool for worship leaders that included scripture research, sermon resources and instrumental and choral arrangements.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.