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A hymn writer (or hymnwriter or hymnist or hymnographer) is someone who writes the text, music or both of hymns. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the composition of hymns dates back to before the time of David who composed many of the Psalms. The term hymnodist, in the USA more than in other regions, broadens the scope to include the study of hymns.
Early Church and Middle Ages
Many hymn writers in the early Church gained prominence and achieved canonisation. Saint John of Damascus (c. 675 or 676 - 749) was noted for his work as a hymn writer; some of the most popular English hymns which are translations of his works include Come ye faithful, raise the strain, Let us rise in early morning and The day of resurrection, all associated with the season of Eastertide and all translated by John Mason Neale.
Until the twelfth century, it was accepted that only men served the Church in this role. Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) challenged this notion in the twelfth century, becoming the first woman to serve in this position.
Many leaders of the reformation, including Martin Luther (1483-1546) himself, were hymn writers; Luther's work included A mighty fortress is our God and Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bonds. Lutherans continued to compose hymns, and some of the popular hymn writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries included the three saints commemorated in the Lutheran Calendar of Saints on 26 October: Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608),  Johann Heermann (1585-1647), and Paul Gerhardt (1607-76). Michael Praetorius (1571-1621), and Johann Crüger (1598-1662) also gained renown as German Lutheran hymn writers of that era.
In the English-speaking world, the art of writing hymns was brought to prominence by the approximately 750 hymns composed by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), followed by the almost tenfold Watts' output composed a generation later by co-founder of Methodism, Charles Wesley (1707-88).
Nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries
Major modern publishers include the Jubilate Group and Stainer & Bell in the UK; CanticaNOVA Publications, World Library Publications and Oregon Catholic Press in the USA; and Willow Publishing in Australia.
Leading UK hymn writers have included Timothy Dudley-Smith (born 1926), Jubilate hymn writers Michael Perry (1942–96), Michael Saward (1932-2015) and Christopher Idle (born 1938), Stainer & Bell hymn writer Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000), as well as James Quinn (1919-2010) and Brian Foley (1919-2000).
Hymn writers who have achieved sainthood
- This list is incomplete. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
- Saint Thomas Aquinas (28 January [or 7 March])
- Saint Robert Southwell (21 February)
- Saint Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori (1 August)
- Saint Hildegard of Bingen (17 September)
- Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (9 October)
- Saint John of Damascus (4 December)
- Saint Theodulph of Orleans (18 December)
- John Mason Neale (7 August)
- "King David and the Psalms".
- "St. John of Damascus - Hymnary.org".
- "Martin Luther - Hymnary.org".
- "Philipp Nicolai - Hymnary.org".
- "Johann Heermann - Hymnary.org".
- "Paul Gerhardt - Hymnary.org".
- "Michael Praetorius - Hymnary.org".
- "Johann Crüger - Hymnary.org".
- "Isaac Watts - Hymnary.org".
- "Charles Wesley - Hymnary.org".