Music faculty

Heather Josselyn-Cranson, Th.D.

Associate Professor of Music
Director of Music Ministries

Th.D., Boston University School of Theology
M.S.M., Boston University School of Theology
B.A., Bates College

CSFV 206


Heather Josselyn-Cranson is the director of the music ministry program at Northwestern College. She has earned degrees in music composition, sacred music and liturgy from Bates College and Boston University School of Theology, and has served as a minister of music at congregations in Florida, Massachusetts and Russia. An active scholar, she has published articles on music in emerging churches, how translation affects the hymns of Charles Wesley, and women’s participation in the chant of medieval monastic communities.

Dr. Josselyn-Cranson's composition and hymn writing have also received attention. Her choral compositions for the musical Terror Texts received a special commendation for Distinguished Achievement in Choral Music from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2009. Three of her recent hymns have also won awards: “Every Day We See the Traces” won second prize in the Jesuit 25th Anniversary Hymn Contest sponsored by St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2011; “Planets Humming as They Wander” won the Boston University School of Theology Hymn Competition in 2010; and “We Cannot Know What Worship Is” received second prize in the Congregational Justice Song Contest sponsored by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in 2009.


  • Piano Class (Beginners I)

    Piano Class (Beginners I)

    (1 credit) This class is designed for students with limited experience in piano. Beginning class is for the student with no piano background or very little prior instruction. Intermediate class is for the student who reads melodic lines and has some previous keyboard experience. Advanced class is for the student who has had a few years of keyboard instruction and wishes to broaden repertoire. Placement in appropriate level is by permission of instructor.
  • World Musics

    World Musics

    (2 credits, alternate years, consult department) World Musics provides an overview of world music traditions and serves as an introduction to the field of ethnomusicology, giving special attention to the use of ethnomusicology in missions and the use of world musics in worship.
  • Music Ministry Practicum

    Music Ministry Practicum

    (2 credits) At the conclusion of the music ministry major course work, the student will be placed in a local church to gain hands on experience in the field. Through the practicum the student will further refine areas of strength, be introduced to a broad array of worship ministries and develop skills in organization and planning. The ministry activities and church situation will vary depending on the student's strengths, performance background and career focus. Prerequisites: all course requirements for the music ministry major.
  • Special Topics in Music

    Special Topics in Music

    (2 credits, non- yearly, consult department) This course provides in-depth study of special topics in music. Students will look at philosophical and practical issues in music within society and various cultures. Students will explore questions in theoretical, theological, historical, and performance approaches to music. Prerequisite: MUS318 or permission of instructor.
  • Music of the Church

    Music of the Church

    (3 credits) This course will survey Judeo-Christian music of the Church, from its biblical roots to the present day. Students will be introduced to the development of hymnody, liturgy, music and worship movements and will compare historical models with current worship situations. Recommended for all students entering church-related work, including pre-seminary and Christian education.
  • Organ for Music Ministry

    Organ for Music Ministry

    (1 credit, alternate years, consult department) This course will introduce students to an instrument that is owned and used by the majority of American churches. Students will learn about the history and theology behind the use of the organ, the construction and workings of organs, and techniques for using the organ to accompany hymns, choirs, or even contemporary Christian music. In addition, students will learn basic skills in accompanying, performing, and improvising on the organ. Prerequisite: MUS 133 or MUS 251 or permission of instructor.
  • Hymnology/Liturgy


    (2 credits, alternate years, consult department) A study of the development and use of music for worship, with emphasis on hymns. The course will outline the historical threads of hymnody and liturgy. Prominent hymn writers and derivations of tunes will be studied. Prerequisite: MUS111.
  • Church Music Administration

    Church Music Administration

    (1 credit, alternate years, consult department) An examination of several areas of organizational structure for a church setting. Students will gain knowledge in order to work effectively in a Christian community, while exercising a servant model of leadership. Prerequisite: MUS115.
  • Counterpoint


    (2 credits, alternate years, consult department) The study of species counterpoint and 18th century fugues. Prerequisite: MUS211.
  • Leading Music for Worship in a Changing Culture

    Leading Music for Worship in a Changing Culture

    (2 credits, alternate years, consult department) This class will explore the biblical basis for contemporary church music. Through a variety of readings, students will also develop their own philosophy of contemporary music in worship. They will learn to evaluate issues of quality, both in the selection of contemporary songs and in the presentation of them in a service. Students will also learn the role of each instrument in a contemporary ensemble and how to plan and present a contemporary worship service. Prerequisite: MUS111 or permission of instructor.
  • Lead Sheet Piano Lessons

    Lead Sheet Piano Lessons

    (1-2 credits) Private instruction is offered in keyboard, voice, brass, woodwind, percussion and string performance. Prerequisite: MUS133 or MUS251

Publications and presentations

  • "Calvin and Music: The Past, Present, and Future of the Genevan Psalm Tunes," presented at Calvinism for the 21st Century, Sioux Center, Iowa, April 9, 2010
  • "Gilbert's Saints: The Norman and English Saints Surrounding the Gilbertine Order," the Second Annual Gilbertine Lecture, presented in Pointon, Lincolnshire, February 6, 2010
  • "Local and Authentic: Music in Emerging Congregations," published in Worship, vol. 83, number 5, September 2009
  • "Moderate psallendo: Musical participation in worship among Gilbertine nuns," published in Plainsong and Medieval Music, vol. 16, part 2, October 2007
  • "Charles in the Land of the Czars," published in Sacramental Life, vol 19, number 2, Spring 2007

Professional experience

  • Church Musician, Church of the Savior, Orange City, IA
  • Minister of Education and Music, Old West Church, Boston
  • Worship Coordinator, Boston University School of Theology
  • Music Library Assistant Supervisor, Boston University Mugar Library
  • Music Director/Organist/Choir Director, Weymouth United Methodist Church, Weymouth, MA


  • North American Academy of Liturgy
  • Order of Saint Luke
  • Hymn Society of North America


  • Winner, Boston University School of Theology Hymn Competition, 2010
  • Second prize, Congregational Justice Song Contest of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 2009
  • Recipient of a special commendation for Distinguished Achievement in Choral Music from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, 2009