Presbyterian hymnwriter pens anniversary hymns for congregations marking milestones

The works of the Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles are helping PC(USA) congregations mark three centuries of service in their communities

by the Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Kyler Nixon via Unsplash

Presbyterian hymnwriter the Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles has completed several new anniversary hymns for congregations marking special milestones — some of them going back centuries.

South Presbyterian Church is marking 300 years in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Since 1723 this congregation has been a source of inspiration and strength for the community and a landmark in the local landscape.  As part of South Presbyterian Church’s yearlong celebration, The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles crafted a new anniversary hymn text called “We Praise You God This Day.” It is sung to the familiar hymn tune VRUECHTEN.

Trinity United Church of Christ in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania is marking its 175th anniversary in 2023.  For Trinity, Dalles wrote a hymn entitled “Now Hear God’s Word for Us This Day,” which is sung to the tune JERUSALEM.  East Petersburg is Dalles’ hometown.

Derry Presbyterian Church in Hershey, Pennsylvania will mark its 300th anniversary in 2024.  For the Derry congregation, Dalles has penned a hymn called “Bourne by the Waters, Braving the Waves,” which is sung to the tune of “The Skye Boat Song.” The congregation anticipates singing the hymn throughout their anniversary year.

The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles

Dalles is an ordained Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister who has served congregations in South Bend, Indiana; Pittsburgh (Fox Chapel and Shadyside), and Longwood, Florida.  His hymns appear in over a dozen hymnals in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Collections of his hymns have been published in three books.

“These churches each have a remarkable and laudable history,” Dalles said of the anniversary hymns. “I am glad to lift up aspects of their congregations’ life in a hymn that is theirs alone, that they can sing during their anniversary celebration and in the years to come.”

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