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Call for Papers 2023

The Seventh Biennial
Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives Conference

Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, United Kingdom
1–4 August 2023


Congregational music-making is a vital and vibrant practice within Christian communities worldwide. It reflects, informs, and articulates convictions and concerns that are irreducibly local even as it flows along global networks. The goal of the Christian Congregational Music conference is to expand the avenues of scholarly inquiry into congregational music-making by bringing together world-class scholars and practitioners to explore the varying cultural, social, and spiritual roles music plays in the life of various Christian communities around the world. We are  pleased to invite proposals for the sixth biennial conference at Ripon College in Cuddesdon, near Oxford, United Kingdom, from Tuesday, August 1, to Friday, August 4, 2023. The conference will feature guest speakers, roundtables and workshops that reflect the ever-broadening scope of research and practice in Christian congregational music-making around the world.

Proposals on any topic related to the study of congregational music-making will be considered, but we especially welcome submissions that explore one or more of the following themes: 


🚸 Children, Youth, Participation, and Learning

Congregational music is an important element of faith formation in children, and often remains a foundational aspect of an individual’s spirituality throughout adult life. How has congregational song for children changed in recent decades, from children’s hymnals to contemporary worship albums for kids? How is the function of the children’s choir evolving? How can children’s voices be part of the musical fabric of a congregation? How can worship be tailored to reach the unique needs of children? What are best pedagogical practices for engaging children in congregational song?


⚔️ Conflict, Displacement, Division, and Lament

What is the role and function of congregational music in response to local and global crises? How are Christians worshiping in the context of loss, conflict, instability, and disaster? What is the role of lament in liturgical practice? How are different aspects of worship feeding and sustaining communities for the challenges? How are congregations engaging social issues in musical worship and what tensions can this cause? How do different theologies engage social and political concerns in worship? What is the role of musical worship in a congregation experiencing internal division or external strife?


🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Power, Ethics, and Negotiating Relationships

Congregational song, both musical texts and embodied practices, communicates the identity, values, theology, and priorities of worshiping communities. What are some of the ways songwriters, worship leaders, musicians, pastors, and lay people are creating conditions for corporate flourishing? What is the role of music and musicians in renegotiating power imbalances in worship and liturgical practices, and within congregations? What theologies and dynamics of relationship are our congregational songs setting as examples for us? What does an ethical approach to worship and musical community look like in a changing world, for leaders and congregations?


👐 Embodiment, Welcome, Belonging

What does it mean to acknowledge embodiment in worship practices? In what ways do our identities and personal experiences matter in our worship, in our congregational singing? How can worship leaders and musicians affirm varying abilities and identities not just in text and lyrics but in musical practices? How can communities make space for different ways of knowing, praying, praising, and being? How can LGBTQ+ affirming hymns and songs relate to broader practices of welcome in communities? Is it helpful to sing welcome in really explicit ways, so that people see themselves reflected in what congregations are voicing? How can we sing when it might be difficult to engage in conversation?


🌏 Congregational Musics of Asia and the Pacific

Communities in Asia, South Asia, Pacific Regions and their diasporas are home to rich congregational song traditions and the growing edges of new developments. What are the challenges and opportunities that songwriters from these regions face in trying to reach broader audiences beyond local contexts or language groups? What are the legacies of colonialism and Western cultural imperialism in the congregational songs and worship of these regions? How is Asia and Pacific heritage being re-imagined in diasporic and hybrid congregational music? What are the cultural dynamics of worship around issues such as celebrity in these regions?


🖨️ Production, Publishing, Circulation, and Access

The landscape of congregational music dissemination has changed vastly throughout the 21st century, reflecting changing landscapes of media, technology, copyright, user-generated content, etc. How has resourcing for congregational singing responded to these changing landscapes? How has the accessibility of the internet impacted songwriters and composers? How has the development of core congregational music industries influenced the ways that materials are produced and accessed? How is the changing life span of songs impacting congregations and community, as well as the marketplace? In what ways are hymnals an effective and relevant tool for worship, and in what ways are they no longer serving communities?


We are now accepting proposals for individual papers (20 minutes), lightning talks (10 minutes), organised panels (3 papers) and roundtables. The online proposal form can be found on the conference website:

Whilst the conference retains its primary identity as an in-person event in Cuddesdon, we acknowledge that international travel can sometimes be challenging and will do our best to accommodate a limited number of remote/digital presentations over the course of the event.

Proposals must be received by 14 December 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 31 January 2023, and conference registration will begin on 15 February 2023. Further instructions and information will be made available on the conference website at