April 7, 2016

Otago’s Colin Gibson honoured

Each year Royal School of Church Music UK Headquarters takes opportunity to honour members, friends and supporters for the outstanding contributions they have made, often for decades.

Recently, Colin Gibson or the Otago & Southland Branch, has been awarded an HonRSCM. In any one year there are only four of these world-wide.

Colin Gibson-1


MNZM PhD (Otago), MA, Dip Hons, Dip Teaching, LTCL, HMRSCM

Born in 1933, Colin Gibson is Emeritus Professor of English (University of Otago), a lay preacher in the Methodist Church, and organist and choirmaster at the Mornington Methodist Church, Dunedin, a position he has held for more than forty years.

Colin Gibson was formerly Donald Collie Professor of English and Head of the English Department at the University of Otago, where he still teaches a Summer School on Fantasy Worlds, including those of J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S.Lewis and J.K.Rowling. He is an internationally distinguished scholar with editions of Renaissance dramatists published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, Cambridge University Press, Macmillan and the St Martin’s Press. He has published numerous academic articles and essays and edited a variety of journals. He regularly conducts workshops, teaches and gives lectures on literary and musical topics, both in New Zealand and overseas. He takes a special interest in the visual arts as they relate to literature and religion.

He has been writing church music, including hymns and hymn settings, for over thirty years, and his work is now known internationally through published collections of his own work such as Singing Love (Collins Liturgical Press, England), Reading the Signature and Songs for a Rainbow People, (Hope Publishing, USA) and in national hymnbooks such as With One Voice, Alleluia Aotearoa, New Zealand Praise, Carol our Christmas, Faith Forever Singing and Hope is our Song (2009). He has established a specials collection in the Dunedin Public Library devoted to hymnology.

His own hymns and his settings of texts by Shirley Erena Murray, with whom he frequently collaborates, appear in more than 60 international hymnbooks. Colin and Shirley won the USA Hymn Society New Hymn Search for 2007, and their Anzac Day hymn has been widely used nationally. He is a founding member of the editorial board of the New Zealand Hymnbook Trust. He frequently writes about and lectures on hymns and hymn writing, and has given workshops and presentations throughout New Zealand and in the United States, Japan, the Philippines, Australia and Great Britain. In New Zealand, religious radio and television programmes often feature his work. In addition to his writing and compositions for the Church he has a body of songs (many of them for children), piano pieces and extended choral works. His larger choral pieces for the Church include Balaam and Balak, The Animals’ Nativity, and the cantata, The Spirit Within, which has been performed to date in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, Blenheim and Kaikoura and was recently recorded by the Wellington Festival Singers.

Colin is Australasian Editor for a new international Dictionary of World Hymnology, published on-line by the Canterbury Press, England, in 2013. He is currently preparing articles on New Zealand hymn writers and their hymns for a Companion to all the hymnbooks published by the New Zealand Hymnbook Trust from 1982 to 2009, due to be published later this year.

NB: Colin Gibson will be presenting one of his legendary Hymnology Seminars for St Luke’s Christchurch on Wednesday evening 14 September at the Mary Potter Centre 442 Durham Street North.