Celebrating Women’s History Month #6

Hymn Writer Ruth Duck
by Dean McIntyre

Ruth Duck (b. 1947) is professor of worship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. Prior to her arrival at Garrett in 1989, she had served United Church of Christ pastorates in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. Her bachelor's degree is from Southwestern-At-Memphis University, now called Rhodes College. She has a Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary (1973) and a second master's degree from the University of Notre Dame (1987). She holds two doctorates: a ThD from Boston University School of Theology (1989) and a DD from Chicago Theological Seminary (1983).

Duck has been writing hymns since 1974. The first time she heard one of her hymns being sung was in 1983 at a United Church of Christ General Synod. She writes, "2,000 people were singing my hymn. I was crying while two friends on either side held my hands. I feel that writing hymn texts is a central part of my call." That is a call she has followed ever since, a call that has resulted in hymns in most hymnals in use today as well as two published collections of texts: Dancing in the Universe: Hymns and Songs by Ruth Duck and Circles of Care: Hymns and Songs (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1989). She has co-authored another book, Praising God: The Trinity in Christian Worship (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1999), in which the authors incorporate a broader range of liturgical images into an orthodox trinitarianism.

Duck's hymn texts are the leading edge of the search for hymn and worship language that is fair and just, reverent and relevant, expressive, uplifting, and universal. Her hymns in The United Methodist Hymnal and The Faith We Sing include:

  • The United Methodist Hymnal, 605, "Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters" (author)
  • The Faith We Sing, 2046, "Womb of Life" (author)
  • The Faith We Sing, 2136, "Out of the Depths" (author)
  • The Faith We Sing, 2169, "God, How Can We Forgive" (author)
  • The Faith We Sing, 2180, "Why Stand So Far Away, My God?" (author)
  • The Faith We Sing, 2182, "When God Restored Our Common Life" (author)
  • · The Faith We Sing, 2228, "Sacred the Body" (author)
  • The Faith We Sing, 2234, "Lead On, O Cloud of Presence" (author)
  • The Faith We Sing, 2237, "As a Fire Is Meant for Burning" (author)
  • Worship & Song, 3109, "Living Spirit, Holy Fire

More information and a photo of Ruth Duck are available on her web page at Garrett.


See more about Women's History on the Discipleship Ministries site.

Categories: Womens History Month