1125 Savile Lane
McLean, VA 22101


1125 Savile Lane
McLean, VA 22101

Sing a New Song: The Story Behind a New Hymn

Brian Wilhour, Director of Music, and Pastor Aaron recently composed a new hymn as an auction item for Immanuel’s annual auction fundraiser. This month, we premiered the hymn during Immanuel’s Sunday worship services. Sarah Sherman, Music Assistant for Children and Youth, interviewed Brian and Pastor Aaron during Sunday morning’s moment for young disciples.



Sarah:  Which do you write first – the words or the music?

Brian:  I prefer for the words to be written first because it helps to inspire the music.

Aaron:  I prefer the music to be created first because it helps to influence the words.

Both:  (Aaron) Clearly we agree! / (Brian) Clearly we disagree!


Sarah:  What is the difference between a hymn and a song?

Aaron:  Technically, a hymn just the words – not the notes.  It is a poem with a specific meter or rhythm and it often rhymes.  Beyond that, a hymn is like a poetic prayer to God.

Brian:  Historically, the words of a hymn could be used interchangeably with tunes of the same meter – for instance, the leader would say, “Sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to the tune of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  

Aaron:  A “song” is also more freely structured, often without an identifiable rhythm, and the words and music are intrinsically intertwined.  Also, a “song” doesn’t have to be religious in nature.

Brian:  That’s right.  You won’t hear the choir singing anything by Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen anytime soon.


Sarah:  How long does it take to write a hymn?

Brian:  It really depends on divine inspiration … and … the deadline that we’re given.  Sometimes tunes come rather quickly, but I’ve also spent months pondering a melody.

Aaron:  What he said… about the deadline.

Brian:  Seldom do we ever have a first draft that does not go through extensive revisions before the final version is printed.

Aaron:  Brian and I enjoy working together to explore collectively and to think out loud.  So far, we’ve been fortunate to be able to combine my love of words with Brian’s gift of music to create spiritual expressions that will (hopefully) be meaningful and last though time.  I guess you could say that…

Both:  Great minds think alike!