Today’s hymn writers participate in a world filled with new spiritual song. In this episode we explore one example in Josette Flamand’s poem “Migration,” inspired by and set to the music of Gabriel Fauré as a selection in a new hymnal for the Christian Science church. Titled “Above all earthly gain” (“Plutot que tous les gains”), it reflects important trends in contemporary hymn writing—including its cross-cultural currents and its bridging of the traditional and the new. Joining the discussion, Dr. Ryan Vigil—a hymn specialist who played a central role in assembling the Christian Science Hymnal, Hymns 430–603—brings his experience in hymn study and as a composer. This intimate discussion of creating a new hymn, and of the moving personal story behind its inspiration, fits the Christmas season with its theme of divine support for those seeking sanctuary and the embrace of home.
Josette Flamand has taught English and worked extensively as an English and French translator. A writer and an experiencedchorister, she currently belongs to musical associations in her hometown.
Dr. Ryan Vigil is Associate Product Manager in the Department of General Publications at the Christian Science Publishing Society. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, a master’s in composition and theory from Tufts University, and a master’s and doctorate in composition from Yale University. He has taught at several colleges and universities, most recently serving for eight years on the music faculty at the University of New Hampshire. Also active as a composer, pianist, and musicologist, he is currently a Visiting Researcher at Tufts University.