Stephen Fowl: Singing in the Choir

Meet Stephen Fowl, author of “Singing in the Choir.”

Stephen Fowl is Professor of Theology and Dean of Loyola College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, MD. Steve and his family worship at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore. An active lay person, Steve preaches and teaches in parishes around the country. He also serves on the House of Bishops Theology Committee.

Q & A with Stephen Fowl

Q: What are your two favorite hymns or songs for worship?

A: My two favorite hymns are “For All the Saints” because it is fun just to belt it out.  You can’t really sing it too loud.  Also, “What Wonderous Love is This?” You can do so many great harmonies with it and the bass line sometimes gets the melody.

Q: What is your favorite worship service or part of the Book of Common Prayer?

A: I really love baptisms and the baptismal service.  Recently, though, we have had a number of funerals at the Cathedral and I have to say that the BCP funeral service is quite moving, turning a sad occasion into one of hope and joy.

Q: What projects are you working on now? 

A: I’ve just completed a book on idolatry that Baylor U. Press will publish this fall.  If we can find the time, Rob Wall and I are hoping to write a commentary on Acts.  That will be my next big project.  I’m also pondering writing a theology of universities.  Mike Higton has done some interesting work on this, but there is more to do.

Q: Many parishes don’t have professional church musicians. Especially thinking of places where a priest, deacon, a lay leader may be choosing the music, is there any advice you would give or principle you would offer to people making choices about hymns or other music?

A: This is a really great question. I’m not sure I have a lot of insight here.  The music from the Taize community is relatively easy to sing/play; it is repetitive so congregations can pick it up and the texts are almost all Scripture.  

Q: Are there any hymns that make you cringe as a New Testament scholar? 

A: Personally, I find many of the hymn texts from the 19th century (which probably extends to 1919) cringe worthy.  They are so optimistic about building the Kingdom through human efforts.

Check out some of Stephen Fowl’s books:

More by Stephen Fowl:

The Oxford Encyclopedia of The Bible and Ethics2 volumes, Robert Brawley editor in chief, Stephen Fowl (area editor) (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2014).

Engaging Scripture: An Essay in Theological Interpretation. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998; translated into Korean, 2018).

 The Theological Interpretation of Scripture:  Classic and Contemporary Readings. (Editor) (Oxford:  Blackwell, 1997).

Reading in Communion:  Scripture and Ethics in Christian Life with L.G. Jones (London:  SPCK/Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1991). Reprinted by Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998.

The Story of Christ in the Ethics of Paul.JSNT Supp. 36 (Sheffield:  JSOT Press, 1990). Reprinted in Bloomsbury Academic Collections (London: Bloomsbury Press, 2015).