This web site is a memorial to those individuals who were passionate about the reform of the
Roman Catholic liturgy as set forth in Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
and who now, in eternal life, worship the God whom they served in this life.

James Paul Hansen

James Paul Hansen
1937 – 2018

James Paul Hansen, of Abingdon, VA, died peacefully on Wednesday morning, May 2, 2018, one month short of his 81st birthday. His journey ended as it began, in the loving embrace of God.

Jim’s lifelong vocation in church ministry began in childhood, serving at the altar, and in his teens, playing for Mass at his home parish. Early experience and study of traditional (Gregorian) chant and exposure to emergent liturgical forms laid the foundation for his future work. He earned Master’s Degrees in Education and Choral Conducting at Northern Michigan University, and taught the choral arts on the high school level, specializing in early sacred music.

Jim fully embraced the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and pioneered the role of the cantor in Catholic liturgy, becoming the premier Master-Teacher of cantors in North America. He influenced thousands of cantors through his workshops, while also serving in various parish and diocesan positions, including Director of the Office for Worship for the Archdiocese of Portland (1990-1994). His musical compositions, especially his settings of entire Psalms, broke new ground, challenging cantors and communities to sing lament as well as praise, and challenging liturgical composers to put truth before popular appeal.

Jim was known for his long association with the National Association of Pastoral Musicians Cantor and Lector Schools as coordinator and master teacher. He held a master’s degree in education and choral conducting from Northern Michigan University.

Jim retired from diocesan work in 2003, returning to the high school classroom as a part time pianist and teacher of composition, and to church ministry as an organist. He relocated to Abingdon, VA in 2008, with his beloved spouse Melanie Coddington, and continued to contribute to musical liturgy, serving as a substitute accompanist for various congregations. Jim came full circle, founding and directing the Abingdon Schola (2009-2016), a small ensemble specializing in liturgical chant.

A native of Menominee, Michigan, and son of Paul Hansen and Mamie Fifarek, Jim now joins his parents and three siblings, Ruth Ann, Peter, and Stephen, all of whom predeceased him. He is survived by his beloved spouse, Melanie Coddington; sisters, Helen Baron and Michaeline Hansen; daughters, Jane Hansen and Sarah Hansen (Erik Spence); stepchildren, Laura Stapleton (Jeff) and Brian Muller (Jessica); grandchildren, Henry and James Spence; step grandchildren, Gwendolyn and Rosalyn Muller; dear cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.