category: Campus News

Carson-Newman partners with Brentwood Benson in new music project release

Aaron Gray, pictured center, a music major from Jefferson County, is joined by other members of Carson-Newman’s music ensembles during a recording session for the newly released “The Modern Hymn Project.”

A new music collection release features the vocal talents of Carson-Newman University students. “The Modern Hymn Project,” a partnership between Carson-Newman and Nashville’s Brentwood Benson publishing, contains 10 hymns and sacred songs for choir and orchestra.

The collaboration was funded by the University’s Louis and Mary Charlotte Ball Institute for Church Music. The motivation behind the project was to fill a need according to Dr. Mark Hussung, chair of Carson-Newman’s Music Department.

“Ultimately, what we realized was there were these wonderful modern hymns written in the last three to four years. During the pandemic, with the challenges for church choirs and worship orchestras, no one had created really high-quality arrangements of these wonderful modern hymns to be used in the local churches.”

The project was arranged and orchestrated by five-time Dove Award winner Cliff Duren. Duren writes, arranges, orchestrates and produces music for Christian publishers and artists. The recordings feature Carson-Newman student ensembles A Cappella Choir, Men’s Chorus and Women Singers, with students singing all of the project’s solos.

Hussung noted the students’ excitement to be a part of a major recording project, but that the tight time frame did present challenges.

“It added a little craziness to their life at the start of the fall semester because we started classes in August and this big recording project was September 20. So they had six weeks to learn the ten arrangements and get it down. They really worked hard.”

Hussung said the experience was one that offered the music students a glimpse at the various aspects of such a large undertaking.

“It’s pretty rare for a student coming through to be a part of a professional recording project. It really gives them insights into that part of the music world that isn’t typically part of an undergraduate music education.”

The ensembles were able to showcase a sample of their hard work last November at the annual Tennessee Baptist Convention held in Chattanooga. The groups performed three selections from the collection including “The Lord Almighty Reigns,” “It Was Finished Upon the Cross,” and “Yet Not I, But Through Christ in Me.”

Hussung noted that he hopes the collection will benefit congregations for years to come.

“The goal is really to support and enhance worship in churches around the world through this collection. I hope it makes a real difference in what happens in a local church on a Sunday morning.”

Those interested in ordering can visit: and search “The Modern Hymn Project.”

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