Hymn-Writing Covenant Pastor Honored for Compositions

Post a Comment » Written on October 14th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (October 14, 2009) – If your church has sung from a hymnal at any time during the past several decades, chances are good that you have sung a composition by Evangelical Covenant Church minister Bryan Jeffrey Leech.

The composer’s best-known works include “Come Share the Lord” and “We are God’s People,” both of which are in the Covenant’s current hymnal, The Covenant Hymnal: a Worshipbook. His work also has appeared in numerous other hymnals, including Hymns for the Family of God, which sold more than three million copies.

His music has been performed in venues that have included the Vatican, where two numbers were translated into Italian and sung by renowned choirs. That’s not bad for someone who received no real formal training in music, says he can’t play the piano very well, is “okay” with reading music, has someone else arrange his compositions, and didn’t even start seriously writing down his “little hums and hymns” until he was in his 40s.

In July, the 78-year-old was presented with the Fred Bock Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Association of Church Musicians convention. The award was established to honor church musicians and is named for Fred Bock, renowned composer, choral publisher, and performer.

Accepting the award, Leech told the audience, “My piano teacher dropped me when I was 11, giving me the impression that I was not musically adept. So here I am at nearly 80 years old, and you’ve given me proof that maybe she was wrong.”

Leech was born in England in 1931 and moved to the United States in 1955 at the urging of a friend. He graduated from North Park Theological Seminary and served Evangelical Covenant Church pastorates in Boston, Massachusetts; Montclair, New Jersey; San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Oakland, California. Now retired, he is minister emeritus at First Covenant Church in Oakland.

Leech’s career has been varied. In addition to his other work while living in Santa Barbara, Leech hosted “Morning Song,” a 30-minute program of commentary and light to classical sacred music that was broadcast worldwide from 1979-2007.

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