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Hurd, David

The novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith describes life in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Another equally important oak who finds his roots in Brooklyn is composer-church musician David Hurd. Born in Brooklyn, he attended Oberlin Conservatory, after which he was appointed assistant organist at Trinity Parish in lower Manhattan. Graduate studies were done at University of North Carolina while he was teaching at Duke University. In 1973 he returned to New York City to accept the position of organist and music director at the Chapel of the Intercession. In 1976 he joined the faculty of General Theological Seminary in New York, a post he still holds as professor of church music. In 1987 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa, by the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. The following year he received honorary doctorates from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California, and from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois. As a composer he receives many commissions. He is well represented in many hymnals, not the least of which is Worship–Third Edition, which includes nineteen of his works. Considering his performance, recital, and teaching schedules, those honorary doctorates have been well earned. Considering his teaching at General Seminary, his many recitals and seminars along with his numerous publications, the influence he has wielded on church music in the United States has been enormous. He stands as a mighty oak whose roots are in Brooklyn, but his branches shade much of the American Church.