The Way of Wisdom: Faculty Voices – Prof. David J. Hurd

The Way of Wisdom is a major initiative at The General Theological Seminary to integrate all the disciplines of formation in seminary education. Rather than separating education, formation and experience, The Way of Wisdom requires a complete blending of each. To read more about The Way of Wisdom, including Dean Kurt H. Dunkle’s article, “Diving into the Deep End,” go to

Each month GTS News is featuring one faculty member’s reflection on The Way of Wisdom.

Dr. David J. Hurd
Professor of Church Music and Organist
Director of Chapel Music

“Come and seek the ways of Wisdom,
she who danced when earth was new.
Follow closely what she teaches,
for her words are right and true.
Wisdom clears the path of justice,
showing us what love must do.”

So begins a three-stanza hymn by Ruth C. Duck, No. 60 in Voices Found, which happens to be set to my tune “Julion.” Though I had no part in pairing these words with my music for Voices Found, I am pleased with the collaboration of Ruth Duck’s words and my music. Set together here, the text’s invitation to the process of seeking is gently extended musically in melodic figures which first press upward, then downward, and finally center in lilting triple-meter, simultaneously supported by a pedal-point and urged forward by its regular pulsations, before it eventually becomes a moving bass line to animate the rest of the stanza’s harmonic journey. The text’s invitation, the “seeking” motives, the steady bass foundation, and the later sense of journey, all work together to animate this hymn and its charge to those who sing it. A descant to be sung over the third stanza bears the Latin text, “O virtus Sapientiae,” the incipit of an antiphon set to music by Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century. Hildegard’s antiphon may be translated:

“O strength of Wisdom
who, circling, circled,
enclosing all
in one life-giving path,
three wings you have:
one soars to the heights,
one distills its essence upon the earth,
and the third is everywhere.
Praise to you, as is fitting,
O Wisdom.”

Hildegard writes of the three wings of Wisdom. Education and formation at General Seminary historically has been a rich fabric of academic study, daily corporate worship, and intentional life together, also three properties. The Way of Wisdom re-invigorates and focuses what has long been the character of General at its best – a place where people of faith are gathered to grow individually and collectively more fully into the life of Christ for the good of the church and to the glory of God. Liturgical discipline is a distinctive and integrating catalyst for the growth we all seek. Music figures prominently as a constituent of Anglican liturgy, which suggests that the Way of Wisdom at General will be richly musical.