Baylor community welcomes new bears with their own unique hymn

Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Savannah Cooper | Staff Writer

Dr Pepper Hour, Homecoming parade and running the good ole Baylor Line are just a few traditions that makes Baylor special. Creating a new hymn unique to the incoming freshman class is now a nearly decade old tradition.

Associate Chaplain and Director of Worship at chapel, Ryan Richardson, Ph.D. along with University Chaplain Burt Burleson, Ph.D., partnered in 2008 to create a last and welcoming impression on our newest additions to the Baylor family.

Richardson highlighted how simple their source of inspiration is each year by just being inclusive and welcoming to the incoming class.

“I wish the inspiration was different year to year, but it’s really always very similar,” Richardson said. “We want to figure out, ‘How do we say this is a community of faith and you are welcomed here?’”

Originally, neither Richardson nor Burleson thought the hymns would grow in popularity as they did. They both saw it as a bit of an experiment at first that wouldn’t last too long.

With Richardson’s musical background as a lifelong piano player and experienced worship leader, and Burleson’s prior experience at Dayspring Baptist Church writing hymns, the pair highlights each others’ strengths and weaknesses.

“He’ll start with lyrics, give them to me, I’ll sit down at the piano, we’ll figure out kinda how those fit into the mold of something unique, but also singable,” Richardson said. “Then we’ll mold the lyrics to make sure they match what we’re trying to say and the meter of the music.”

These Baylor hymns have an average three verse structure that highlights the past, the present and a call to action that Burleson noted as recurring theme throughout.

“I think of it as a journey of three parts, the first verse is about what comes before that connects with parents and highlights the beginnings of time,” Burleson said. “The second verse is often about the dynamics of being at a Christian university where you’re trying to think about the next questions and the last verse often has to do with calling upon our lives.”

This year’s hymn surrounds the verse Luke 10:27 and is titled “Love the Lord Our God.” Richardson wanted to make sure that despite events occurring in the world, the Baylor community is solid in their faith.

“We sat together, and thought, ‘What is it that Baylor, at this point in history, what is it that we need to be pouring out over our community,’” Richardson said. “We decided that right now what Baylor needs more than ever is to go back to the basics of our faith.”

Richardson explained why in times like this we need to be reminded of them now more than ever.

“And the basics of our faith are the first commandment, the greatest commandment and the second commandment,” Richardson said. “The first being love your Lord and God with all your heart and soul mind and strength, and the second one is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”

In addition to being a welcoming hymn that many can relate to, Burleson notices how they connect us together as a community like few other things can.

“Music has a way of taking us some place, like a portkey in Harry Potter, this back door to the soul,” Burleson said. “It comes in and connects us and moves us in ways talking can’t.”