Break into Song
Break into Song
Hilary Seraph Donaldson's ministry of fostering community through congregational singing.


Hilary’s research and writing explores the intersection of faith, community, and music-making.

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In my research I explore the interplay of music, culture, and faith in mid-twentieth-century England, with a focus on the sacred music of Benjamin Britten.

My doctoral dissertation interrogates Britten’s enduring interest in themes, tropes, and forms of the Anglo-Catholic tradition. In this research I emphasize Britten’s engagement with occasional and site-specific sacred music, his enthusiasm for high-quality amateur music-making, and his complex engagement with politics, culture, and faith commitments which run counter to established narratives of the Modernist discourses into which his musical legacy has nevertheless recently been drawn.

I am committed to combining scholarly research with practice, and my research continually informs my approach to church music.




“Singing the Story of Advent and Christmas: How Congregational Song Makes Diverse Theologies Incarnate,” Consensus 37, no. 2, Faith and the Arts (November 2016): article 3.

“Toward a Musical Praxis of Justice: A Survey of Global and Indigenous Canadian Song in the Hymnals of the Anglican, Presbyterian, and United Churches of Canada through their History,” The Hymn 63, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 2012), 20–28.

“An Analysis of Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb,” Choral Journal 51, no. 10 (May 2011): 6–24.

Non peer-reviewed

“How Do We Lead?” Preface to Singing in Community: Paperless Music for Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2017), vii–ix.

“Let Justice Flow Down like a River: Singing the Sovereignty of Creation,” Reformed Worship 119 (March 2016): 17–27.

Conference Presentations


“Modernist Church Music in Wartime: Walter Hussey’s Patronage of Benjamin Britten,” Annual Conference of the American Musicological Society, San Antonio, TX, 2018

“’Our opera is settled for Broadway:’ Britten and Auden’s Paul Bunyan and the Middlebrow,” Music and the Middlebrow, University of Notre Dame London Global Gateway, 2017

“Frank Bridge, the Sea, and the Ebb of the English Romantic Imagination,” Sixth Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association, University of Nevada, 2014

“‘Music by Enemy Composers’: Exploring the Politics of Mahler Reception in Early 20th-Century England,” Eighteenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, University of Toronto, 2014