Since writing my book and my blog, I have had the opportunity to give presentations to various groups and meet many wonderful new people. Such happened recently. At the annual meeting of the Association of Disciple Musicians (ADM), I met Susan Adams. She nonchalantly mentioned after I gave my first presentation that she had written a hymn published in the Chalice Hymnal of the Disciples of Christ. I immediately and joyfully interviewed her. Susan was born in New Albany, Indiana in 1946, a sixth generation Disciple of Christ. She had the musical talent to study music at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, the largest of the Seven Sisters colleges. Thereafter, she taught middle school music for 43 years, and was music director and Central Christian Church in New Albany. She had been a member of ADM for 35 years, and was president of that organization when the idea of the Chalice Hymnal arose. In 1987, she went to the General Assembly of the Disciples of Christ and they gave the go ahead to work on the new hymnal, even though they had no funds for it. Thus, the reason it wasn’t published until 1995. Susan served on the editorial board for the hymnal. Though she is retired from both these endeavors, she is still active, both at the United Church of Christ where she rings bells, sings, and plays the piano and at Corydon Christian Church in Corydon, Indiana where she plays chimes and is choir director.
“I Come to Be Baptized Today” was written during the 1989-1990 school year, later revised in 1993. She was taking a class in hymnody at Indiana University while working on a doctorate degree. Her professor, the noted organist Marilyn Keiser, assigned the students to write a hymn. Not that many hymns relate directly to baptism, and particularly to baptism by immersion, but certainly Susan Adams’ does. “The waters clear shall soon enfold my body and my old life, too.” The hymn also refers to standing before the open door. She said that was inspired by a stained glass window at her New Albany church depicting Christ knocking at the door, a depiction I assume to be based on Revelation 3:20.
I thank you, Susan, for sharing your hymn with us. And I thank all the other people who have given me new insights on women and hymnody over the past three years.