Baylor Freshmen Welcomed to Campus with a Hymn Written for Them

  • Class Hymn Graphic
  • Hymn video screenshot
    The video for "Love the Lord Our God" was filmed in 360 degrees at various locations around campus and downtown Waco.Lead vocalists are Ross Tarpley, Joslyn Henderson and Jessica Kemp, backed by a choir of Burt Burleson, Ramona Curtis, Brittany Dool, Jeff Doyle, Lisa Garrett, Aspen Graves, Dominique Hill, Gretel Hill, Cheryl Mathis, Isabel Randall and Kristen Richardson.
Aug. 16, 2017

Baylor chaplains continue hymn tradition with “Love the Lord Our God,” based on Luke 10:27, for Class of 2021

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
Follow Lori on Twitter at @LoriBaylorU
Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (Aug. 16, 2017) – Nine years ago, when Baylor University’s chaplain Burt Burleson, D.Min., wrote a hymn dedicated to the class of 2012, he didn’t realize it was the beginning of a tradition.

Now, every incoming Baylor freshman who attended the opening sessions of New Student Orientation at Baylor has learned the hymn – “Love the Lord Our God” – written specifically for their class. Every year, Burleson collaborates with Ryan Richardson, Ph.D., Baylor’s associate chaplain and director of worship and chapel, to write a song about the spiritual journey they hope incoming students will embark on.

The video for “Love the Lord Our God” was filmed in 360 degrees at various locations around campus and downtown Waco.

“You can tell them a thousand times that this is a Christian university. You can say it all day long, but when you get up there and you’ve actually got a group of hundreds of people singing ‘Love the Lord Our God’ at the top of their lungs, that’s a different kind of experience. They’re actually, all of a sudden, a part of it,” Burleson said.

The lyrics for the chorus of the Class of 2021 hymn, “Love the Lord Our God,” are based on the Bible verse, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Luke 10:27). The verse will serve as the overarching theme for chapel during September.

Each verse from this year’s class hymn embodies a phase of the students’ lives, Burleson said. The first verse represents their life before Baylor, the second relates to their time in college and the third contains vocational language about their future.

While the lyrics are a collaborative effort each year, Richardson handles the melody for the class hymn. He said he tries to make the notes simple, so that everyone at orientation can pick it up and sing along.

“I felt such a strong sense of unity because there was nobody around me not singing. Everyone was getting really into it,” said Rachael Zemmin, an incoming freshman who attended orientation in June.

Richardson said he’s often approached by Baylor seniors or alumni who remember their class hymn. It’s his hope that the unique songs will stick with Baylor alumni long after their graduation.

“If you hear ‘Jingle Bells’ or if you hear ‘Taps’ being played on the trumpet, all of a sudden, an emotion takes hold. We’re trying to establish this communal melody right up front that hopefully will allow that memory to take hold. Maybe if they were to hear their class song again, they would remember why they were here,” Richardson said.

Class hymns dating back to 2008 are available on iTunes, and a video of last year’s hymn is also available online.

Baylor’s chapel staff collaborated with the film and digital media department to produce the video for “Love the Lord Our God,” shot in 360 degrees at locations around campus and downtown Waco. Viewers will be able to use their computer mouse or their mobile device to turn around 360 degrees to see different instruments and singers. The video is available on the Baylor YouTube Channel.

Love the Lord Our God
Class Hymn of 2017

    So love the Lord our God.

    Love with all you are.

    With soul and strength,

    With mind and heart

    Love the Lord our God

    Born of breath and dust

    Life bestowed to us

    Held by beams of joy above

    Holy hands of love

    Sacred dreams for each new day

    Myst’ry’s way


    Wisdom age to age

    Turns a soulful page

    Truth is calling deep to deep

    Waken from your sleep

    Day is dawning, look around

    Paths abound


    Stories will unfold

    Hidden grace untold

    Side by side to walk and know

    Kindnesses to show

    Time and time again to see

    We’re set free

Lyrics & Music by Burt Burleson & Ryan Richardson
Lead vocal: Ross Tarpley, Joslyn Henderson, Jessica Kemp
Piano: Ryan Richardson
Cello: Sam Johnson
Bass: Blake Brooks, David Smith
Drums: Torvice Asberry
Organ Horace Maxile
Choir: Burt Burleson, Ramona Curtis, Brittany Dool, Jeff Doyle, Lisa Garrett, Aspen Graves, Dominique Hill, Gretel Hill, Cheryl Mathis, Isabel Randall, Kristen Richardson
Sound: Engineer: Casey Pittman
Video: Bob Oei, Ryan Joyner
Special Thanks to: Toliver Chapel Baptist Church, Waco Hall, Baylor School of Music, Baylor Theatre, and Baylor Film & Digital Media

by Kassidy Woytek , student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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