The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada at its Annual Conference in Waterloo, Ontario, July 19, 2017, named Dr. Melva W. Costen a Fellow of The Hymn Society. This is the highest honor given by the organization and was conferred because of Dr. Costen’s work as a scholar, editor, and practitioner of church music with a particular emphasis on African-American congregational song.
Dr. Melva W. Costen, a native of South Carolina, retired as Helmar Emil Nielsen Professor of Worship and Music, choral director, and chair of the church music degree program at Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She subsequently became the Visiting Professor of Liturgical Studies at the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. She remains active in the Civil Rights Movement and as a teacher and consultant in area of church music, liturgy, and curriculum development. Published works include:
- African American Christian Worship (1993, rev. 2007)
- In Spirit and in Truth: The Music of African American Worship (2004).
Dr. Costen chaired the committee that produced the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and served on the Advisory Committee for the African American Heritage Hymnal.