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Transcript: Retreat is Music to United Methodist Souls


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(Locator: Eagle Creek, Oregon)

Leader sings: “Alleluia, Alleluia…”

The Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett is a self-professed worship geek.

Laura Jaquith Bartlett: “That’s the one that was going through my head when I woke up this morning, out of all the ones I was working on last night.”

She loves the spoken and unspoken details of worship, from tying prayers and music together, to setting the mood, with visual and interactive elements.

Laura Jaquith Bartlett, Leader, Great Hymns of the Faith Retreat: “What really gets me going is when I get to work on worship design and when I get to take all these pieces and weave them into the liturgy together and create something that does in fact help people claim their relationship with the Divine.”

(Bartlett leads prayer) “The humblest thing you created sings your praise.”

Since 2009, Bartlett has hosted “Great Hymns of the Faith” at the United Methodist Alton L. Collins Retreat Center in Oregon.

Laura Jaquith Bartlett: “How many of you have been here more than four times you think, to a Great Hymns?” (lots of hands go up) “So you see that it is somewhat addictive. Those of you who are here for the first time – if that worries you, go ahead and leave right now. (laughter)”

The events are a chance for music enthusiasts to learn more about the origin of favorite hymns.

Laura Jaquith Bartlett: “…next to Charles Wesley, who was of course the greatest ever, I just need to make that clear. Next to him, Watts is certainly one of the greatest hymn writers ever.”

David Poindexter, Participant, Great Hymns of the Faith Retreat: “Charles Wesley said that he could sing religion into people a lot faster than John could preach it in.”

Betty Pritchard, Participant, Great Hymns of the Faith Retreat: “A lot of people in a congregation find that they have some of their most inspirational moments during the music of the church. The words of the songs can be very meaningful for them. It adds to their spiritual experience during the worship service.”

Laura Jaquith Bartlett: “There are people who will say music enhances worship, but I actually disagree with that statement. I think that in many ways music isn’t just an add-on; music is an integral part of how we relate to God, how we understand at a deeper level that goes beyond words, what our relationship is with the Divine; and how we are shaped together as a community of faith.”

Some who attend this event are choir directors who like to learn new hymns and ideas to share with their congregations. But Bartlett points out a church doesn’t have to have well-trained musicians to add excitement to worship.

(Group sings hymn) “For the beauty of the Earth…”

Laura Jaquith Bartlett: “When we sing ‘For the Beauty of the Earth,’ I ask the women to sing one of the stanzas and then the men to sing one stanza, and then everybody comes back in. That’s pretty much of a no-brainer. But many, many congregations would never think of doing that. Just that little bit not only gives some variety but it also gives us a chance to listen to each other.”

(Group sings hymn) “Love divine, all loves excelling…”

David Poindexter: “The hymnody is a great treasure which the church has accumulated over the centuries. And most of us don’t know nearly enough about it.”

Carol Seckel, Participant, Great Hymns of the Faith Retreat: “We can memorize Scripture, but I find that we don’t do that a lot. But we do remember music.”

(Group sings Hymn: “…lost in wonder, love and praise.”


Great Hymns of the Faith programs are held three times a year. For more information, contact the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center in Eagle Creek, Oregon.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.

Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.
This video was first posted on September 22, 2015.