Courses Taught at Duke

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  • Introduction to Christian Worship
  • Songwriting and Theology
  • The History of Contemporary Worship
  • Worship History for Worship Renewal
  • 100,000 Sundays: The History of Christian Worship and Its Ongoing Relevance for Today
  • Preaching on the Sacraments: Patristic Imitation
Course description for Introduction to Christian Worship:

This course aims for instilling in students a theologically-informed, pastorally-sensitive confidence in planning and leading the worship of Christian congregations.  The Fall semester will use an approach to that task that presumes worship in traditions with denominationally-approved and -propagated worship books (e.g., United Methodist, Episcopal, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.).  The Spring semester will use an approach that presumes traditions in which individual congregations are more free to shape their worship (e.g., Baptist, Charismatic, Holiness, Pentecostal, independent, non-denominational, etc.)  In both semesters “Traditional,” “Contemporary,” and other recent developments in worship will be considered respectfully.

With respect to topics, this course introduces students to the history, theology, and practice of Christian worship from an ecumenical perspective.  It surveys major aspects of worship, including the Lord’s Day, the Christian calendar, Word and sacraments/ordinances, daily and occasional services, music, space, and the arts.


Course description for Songwriting and Theology:

This course explores using theological training to develop songs for worship.  This seminar-type course will explore various collections of classic, historical worship materials, including Wesleyan hymnody, to uncover profound theological themes and motifs and their expression in lyrical form.  Students will be expected to show theological enrichment by composing lyrics for new worship songs to be shared with the class. Students are not expected to compose tunes, just lyrics.  In addition to two complete songs to be composed, students will also have lyrical writing assignments every week.

Among the historical material to be reviewed will be worship songs by Charles Wesley (British, 18th century), Prudentius (a Western poet from the late patristic period), Ephrem the Syrian (an Eastern poet from the late patristic period), Romanos the Melodist (an Eastern poet from the early Byzantine period), Isaac Watts (British, 18th century), as well as a sampling of other Western and Eastern texts for Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.


Course description for History of Contemporary Worship seminar:

This research seminar will research the origins and development of the various strands of alternative worship, known collectively as “contemporary worship,” in English-speaking Protestantism.  The focus of investigation will be on the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.


Course description for Worship History for Worship Renewal:

Using in-depth case studies of selected historical churches, this course explores different practices in and understandings of Christian worship over the past two millennia.  The course is designed to come to grips with basic issues in worship as represented by different traditions and with options for approaching worship renewal today, with an eye to using Trinitarian theology as the evaluative key.  How might we borrow with integrity from our Christian past to renew worship today?  Doctoral students taking the course will focus, in addition, on developing facility with researching historic, liturgical primary material.

Six case studies will be used:  Jerusalem in the 4th century; Constantinople in the 6th century; Salisbury; England in the 15th century; Geneva in the 16th century; Christ Temple (Church of Christ [Holiness] USA) in Jackson, Mississippi, ca. 1900; and Anaheim Vineyard Fellowship, ca. 1980.


Course description for 100,000 Sundays: The History of Christian Worship and Its Ongoing Relevance for Today:

For 2,000 years (approximately 100,000 Sundays) Christians have been worshiping. Over the course of this time, the forms, perspectives, and practices of Christian worship have varied greatly even as certain issues perennially recur as ongoing questions. The course seeks to provide an orientation to the large periods and sweeps of Christian worship history even as it highlights some recurring issues still relevant to the worship of churches today.


Preaching on the Sacraments: Patristic Imitation:

What language can we borrow to speak about our experience of the deep mysteries of God in Christian worship and sacraments?  This course explores patristic examples of using typology and allegory, especially in the 4th century form of preaching known as mystagogy, to name what is experienced in Christian worship.  The course will emphasize appropriation of this patristic technique for the creation of sermons, prayers, song texts, and catechesis for the church today.