|On Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Drew Theological School hosted a revitalized Bard Thompson Lecture in Liturgy and Music to honor the life and work of Dr. Bard Thompson, who was professor of church history at Drew’s Theological and Graduate Schools, founder of the doctoral program in liturgical studies, and dean of the Drew Graduate School from 1969-1986. He authored numerous books on church history, including Liturgies of the Western Church.For this year’s revitalization, guest preacher and lecturer Dr. Andrew Pratt, a Methodist Minister and Lecturer in Contextual Theology at Hartley Victoria College in Manchester, England presented “Hymns Making Sense: Learning from Charles Wesley.” Charles Wesley composed many communion hymns. One of the prophetic themes in his work was ministry to and with the “poor,” as manifest in his hymn collection entitled “Hymns for the Poor.” What might be a tangible expression of poverty in Wesley’s day as well as our own? Could a cockroach embody more than a metaphor? Dr. Pratt composed a “Cockroach Communion” hymn to bring Charles Wesley’s prophetic writing to life through the voice of one who is definitely not “welcome” at our table.Dr. Pratt’s lecture explored the ways in which hymns can help express and explain theology in the light of human experience. Charles Wesley’s Hymns Occasioned by the Earthquake (1750), for example, can be understood as a foundation for more recent hymns that have been inspired by natural disasters. Dr. Pratt used examples from contemporary writers, his own work, and the scientific and cultural milieu in which 21st century Christian faith is set to demonstrate that hymns make, as well as give expression to, theology and doctrine.
Initiated in the Casperson School by Mrs. Bert Thompson in honor of her husband, the Bard Thompson Lecture will be offered annually by the Theological School, alternating between topics in Liturgical Studies and Renaissance and Reformation. –Nancy VanderVeen, Director, Theological Lifelong Learning