Richard Leach is a leading contemporary writer of words for hymns. Using traditional forms, he creates striking new texts with biblical and theological integrity. His work is included in hymnals and hymnal supplements from a wide spectrum of denominations including the Church of Scotland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Christian Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA and others; and in many independent hymnals and hymnal supplements. Selah has been publishing collections of his texts since 1995. In addition, dozens of anthem settings of his words have been composed and published by Selah, Augsburg-Fortress, GIA and other publishers. He is a frequent presenter at conferences of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and has been called a master of his craft in the review pages of The Hymn Society journal.
Leach describes his writing in this way: "I often write in response to particular Bible passages. I try to tell familiar stories in new ways, or listen to less familiar passages for what they might say to us. I want my hymns to enliven those who sing, to give singers something new which they can make their own."
Besides hymn and anthem texts, Leach has written three cantatas with music by Curt Oliver: "For the Healing of the Nations" (1999), "The Book of Waters" (2004), and "Blessing Without Borders, A Christmas Celebration" (2005). He has written words for art song by composers Carson Cooman and William Vollinger, and jazz song lyrics. With David Schaap, he has edited The Selah Psalter, Hear the Angels Sing, and And Jesus Said, Hymns on the Parables.
Leach's commissioned works include the cantatas written with Curt Oliver, and hymns for various occasions including the biennial conference of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians in New York City in 2005. Those interested in the possibility of commissioning a hymn text or other work may contact him using the link below.
Born in Bangor, Maine, in 1953, Leach received a B.A. in religion from Bowdoin College (1974), and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary (1978). He was a United Church of Christ pastor in Connecticut from 1978 to 1999. Since then he has been the business manager of an information systems consulting company, and a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Leach lives in Pike County, Pennsylvania (the northeast corner of the state), with his wife Beverly. They have two adult sons. Leach’s interests include theology and biblical studies; music of most kinds, but especially jazz; and microbrewery beer.
Send an e-mail to him at rleach @ ltis.net (removing the spaces in this address, which are here to prevent spamming!).
Congregational Song publications
New! Banquet without Walls: Hymns on the Psalms (125-429)
New! Tuned for Your Sake (125-428)
Feel the Spirit in the Kicking (125-406)
Carpenter, Why Leave the Bench (125-421)
Memory, Take the Hand of Hope (125-422)
Go Worship at Emmanuel's Feet (125-424)
--Texts and music
New! And Jesus Said: Parables in Song (125-360, ed. with David Schaap)
New Harmony: A Harp of Thousand Strings (125-427, with David Ashley White)
Honey from the Rock (125-426)
We Sing the Shoreline (125-425)
Over the Waves of Words (125-423)
The Selah Psalter (125-301, ed. with David Schaap)
Pray Then Like This: Hymns on the Lord's Prayer (125-220, with Carson Cooman)
Texts of Choral octavos
New! Any Kingdom We Have (Carson P. Cooman, SATB, organ, 410-525, Mod. easy)
Blessed Are the Peacemakers (Curt Oliver, SATB, 410-155, Mod. easy)
New! Born Among Us in the Night (Carson P. Cooman, SATB, kbyd., 405-246, Mod. easy)
An Empty Tomb at Early Dawn (Holden-Holloway, SATB, C inst., percussion, 405-538, Mod. easy)
Feel the Spirit in the Kicking (Larkin, SATB and keyboard, 405-164)
Good Shepherd, The(Carl Schalk, SATB, organ and oboe, 420-825, Mod. easy)
Hands Are Holding Rust (Edwards, SATB and keyboard, 410-537)
Hear Me, My God (Oliver, SAB, organ, 410-688, Mod. diff.)
How Far Away Is Heaven (Cooman, SATB, keyboard, 420-644)
Hope Is the Harrowing (White, SATB and keyboard, 420-622)
How Many Wonders (David Ashley White, SATB and organ, 410-656, Mod. easy)
Is a Murmuring Dove Nearby (White, SATB and organ, 405-251, Mod. easy)
Jesus, You Are a Stone (Carson P. Cooman, Two-part/SAB, organ, 405-483, Mod. easy)New! Maker of the World (Fedak/Carson P. Cooman, Two-part choir, keyboard, 420-130, Mod. easy)
Mary Said Yes (Schulz-Widmar, SATB and keyboard, 405-201)
The Falconer (Fedak, SATB and organ, 410-659)
New! O Thou Who--Your Statutes Are My Songs (David Ashley White, SATB, organ, 410-451, Mod. easy)
Peace Song (Oliver, SATB, kybd., opt. chimes, 410-619, Mod. easy)
New! The Rain and Snow (David Ashley White, SATB, flute or violin, 410-535, Mod. easy)
Sun Had No More Light to Offer (Curt Oliver, Unison choir/kybd., 405-364, Mod. easy)
Tell the News! (David Ashley White, SATB, organ, 405-564, Mod. easy)
Tide of Angels (White, Two-part and handbells, mod. diff., 405-279)
Twelve Dozen Fish and Nine (Curt Oliver, Two-part men's chorus, kybd., 410-646, Mod. easy)
Weave Your Net of Words (Oliver, Two-part choir, opt. narrator, keyboard, 410-682, Mod. easy)
Wordless Song within the Waters (Alfred V. Fedak, Unison/two-pt., kybd., 422-904, Mod. easy)
Your Love, O God/Sweet Is the Day (David Ashley White, SATB, organ, 410-881, Mod. easy)