Lutheran songwriter and pastoral musician Robin Mann has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by the University of Divinity.
In August this year Robin had marked 50 years of writing and leading worship and praise music in the church with a special refugee fundraiser concert.
He was presented with the university’s highest academic honour by Chancellor Dr Graeme L Blackman AO at a graduation ceremony in Adelaide on Friday 6 December.
The university, of which Australian Lutheran College (ALC) is a part, awarded the degree in recognition of Robin’s ‘sustained and distinguished contribution to practical, theological scholarship through original music composition that advances the celebration of Christian teaching, communal life and identity, and faith-practice through congregational song’.
The citation for the award, delivered by ALC Principal James Winderlich, also notes that Robin’s work ‘gave, and continues to give, Christian expression to modern Australian musical styles, language and cultural symbols’.
‘Robin’s practical scholarship has an important function in theological development in various Australian, Christian contexts’, Pastor Winderlich said. ‘His compositions represent significant and formative Christian ways of knowing and being that celebrate Christian identity that inspire witness and service.
‘As a musician and composer, Robin continues to make significant contributions to the tradition and development of contemporary Christian hymnody in the Australian context.
‘Robin recently celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his life as a writer, musician, worship leader, performer and practical theologian. This remarkable achievement attests to the continuing value that Australia’s broad Christian community places on his work. It is theologically timeless, relevant to contemporary Australian contexts, and singable for diverse community settings.’
A former teacher and lay worker in the LCA/NZ, Robin, who turned 70 in July, has contributed hundreds of songs to the worship life of the church. He is best known in the LCA/NZ for the 114 songs he has contributed to the all together songbooks and as the guitarist and lead singer – along with wife Dorothy – of groundbreaking worship rock band Kindekrist. There are 16 of his original works in the Lutheran Church of Australia’s official hymnal and supplement and eight in the ecumenically produced Together in song.
Pastor Adrian Kitson, chair of the LCA/NZ’s Commission on Worship, said Robin had ‘enabled us to sing and pray the word of God as community for a generation or more’.
‘He has helped us connect more fully with our own land, Australia’, Pastor Adrian said. ‘Robin has done this with a gospel heart, with Dorothy at his side, and with commitment and creativity born of the Spirit. We congratulate him and Dorothy, and thank God for the song.’
Robin said he was ‘delighted and honoured’ to receive the award.
‘It’s a real honour to get it; it’s just terrific’, he said. ‘At the same time I felt it’s a bit unusual, as it’s an academic award and what I’ve done is not academic.
‘On further reflection though, the University of Divinity giving this award is saying that it is an area that’s important and that’s great. So I’m receiving it on behalf of lots of people who have been writing and playing music in all sorts of ways.’
The Doctor of Divinity is the oldest award of the University of Divinity, having been created in 1910 and first awarded in 1913.