Vita - born Cincinnati, Ohio, March 28, 1940


University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, PhD, Church History, 1978; MA, Church History, 1974

School of Sacred Music, Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, SMM, Conducting, 1966

Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, BD, 1965

Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, BA, Music, 1962

Schola Cantorum, Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, Summer, 1966

Liturgical Studies, Notre Dame University, Notre Dame, Indiana, Summer, 1969

Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Illinois, Summer, 1983, Clinical Pastoral Experience


Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, Professor of Church Music, Cantor, Director of the MSM degree with St. Olaf College, Northfield,  Minnesota, 1990-2013

St. Olaf College, Visiting Professor of Church Music, from 1991-2013

Yale University, Institute of Sacred Music, New Haven, Connecticut, Visiting Professor of Church Music, fall semester, 1989-1990

Ascension Lutheran Church, Riverside, Illinois, Cantor, 1982-1990, Assistant Pastor, 1986-1990, ordained, February 2, 1986

Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor of Music, 1968-1990; Director, Elmhurst College Choir and Elmhurst Choral Union-Park District Chorus, 1973-1990; College Organist, 1968-1989; Music Department and Preparatory Music Department Chairperson, 1978-1990

Grace Lutheran Church, Villa Park, Illinois, Choirmaster, 1971-1982

The Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal), Elmhurst, Illinois, Choirmaster-Organist, 1969-1971

St. Luke Lutheran Church, Silver Spring, Maryland, Choirmaster-Organist, 1966-1968

Calvary Lutheran Church, Leonia, New Jersey, Choirmaster-Organist, 1965-1966

St. John's Episcopal Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Choirmaster-Organist, 1962-1965

Zion United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois, Choirmaster-Organist, 1961-1962

Bethel United Church of Christ, Elmhurst, Illinois, Choirmaster, 1958-1961 


Violin with Ronald Koneiczka

Organ with John Weissrock, James Case, Frank McConnell, Reginald Lunt, Edward Linzel, Alec Wyton, Catharine Crozier, Charles Dodsley Walker

Piano with Helen Kettner

Voice with Gene Hines, Viola Repp, John Parella

Conducting with Earl Berg, Abraham Kaplan, Thomas Dunn, Robert Bergt, workshops with Robert Shaw, Julius Herford, Elaine Brown



The Church Musician (Harper & Row, 1988), ISBN 0-06-069331-2; second revised edition (Augsburg Fortress, 1997), ISBN 0-8066-3399-9

Church Music in the United States, 1760-1901, with David Music (MorningStar, 2014), ISBN 978-0-944529-63-8

Church Musicians: Reflections on Their Call, Craft, History, and Challenges ​(MorningStar, 2015),ISBN 978-0-0-944529-68-3. 

The Heart of the Matter: Church Music as Praise, Prayer, Proclamation, Story, and Gift (GIA, 2001), ISBN 1-57999-151-3

A High and Holy Calling: Essays of Encouragement for the Church and Its Musicians (MorningStar, 2018), ISBN 978-0-944529-77-5. 

Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Augsburg Fortress, 2010), ISBN 978-0-8066-5394-5

Hymns of Lent (Augsburg Fortress, 2003), 0-8066-4679-9

Let Justice Sing: Hymnody and Justice (The Liturgical Press, 1998), ISBN 0-8146-2505-3

Let the People Sing: Hymn Tunes in Perspective (GIA, 2005), ISBN 1-57999-353-2

Rise, O Church: Reflections on the Church, Its Music, and Empire (MorningStar, 2008), ISBN 978-0-944529-46-1

Te Deum: The Church and Music (Fortress, 2008), ISBN 0-8006-3146-3

With Tongues of Fire: Profiles in 20th Century Hymn Writing (CPH, 1995), ISBN 0-570-01349-6

Articles, reviews, forums, workshops, and lectures in many periodicals and at many churches, schools, and conferences


Longer works of J. S. Bach, Britten, Bruckner, Charpentier, Distler, Fauré, Fetler, Handel, Haydn, Holst, Mendelssohn, Moe, Mozart, Rutter, Schütz, Stravinsky, and Vivaldi; shorter works from Western and non-Western sources, Renaissance to the present


Christus Victor Award, The Institute of Liturgical Studies, 2016

​Association for Reformed and Liturgical Worship, Board Member from 2015

Church Music Institute, Board Member from 2012

Center for Church Music, Board Member from 2013

Dean, Twin Cities Chapter (Minnesota), American Guild of Organists, from 2014

Jubilate Deo Award, National Association of Pastoral Musicians, July 17, 2014

Soli Deo Gloria citation, National Lutheran Choir, 2013

Gold Pen Award, MetroLutheran, 2009

Faithful Servant Award, The Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, 2009

Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, 2004

President, Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, 1998-2000

National Chaplain, American Guild of Organists, 1991-1998

Editor, The Hymn, 1985-1990

Elmhurst College Faculty Member of the Year, 1974-1975

Schaff Prize in Church History, Lancaster Seminary, 1965

MEMBERSHIPS, Past and Present

American Guild of Organists

​​Association for Reformed and Liturgical Worship  

Association of Lutheran Church Musicians

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, ordained February 2, 1986

Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society

Hymn Society in the United States and Canada

Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland

Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Hymnologie

The Liturgical Conference

Mercersburg Society

​North American Academy of Liturgy