John D. Witvliet

John Witvliet


  • PhD, Theology/Liturgical Studies, University of Notre Dame, 1997
  • MA, Master of Arts in Liturgical Studies, University of Notre Dame, 1995
  • MMus., Master of Music in Choral Music, University of Illinois, 1993
  • MTS, Master of Theological Studies, Calvin Theological Seminary, 1992
  • BA, Music/Vocal Performance, Calvin College, 1990


John D. Witvliet is the director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and professor of worship, theology, & congregational and ministry studies at Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary. 

A graduate of Calvin University, Dr. Witvliet holds graduate degrees in theology from Calvin Theological Seminary, in music from the University of Illinois, and the Ph.D. in liturgical studies and theology from the University of Notre Dame. 

As a teacher, he has mentored student research and offered courses on worship and theology, the Psalms, Trinitarian liturgical and sacramental theology, the history of worship, the Christian year, the arts in worship, as well as recent co-taught exploratory courses and seminars on global Christianity, intercultural learning, disability, and African-American religious autobiography. 

As an administrator, he leads a program team of colleagues who oversee Calvin University’s ministry studies programs and CICW’s practical and scholarly programs, including the Calvin Symposium on Worship, the Vital Worship Grants Program,, CICW’s web and social media sites, as well as consulting with congregations, denominations, ecumenical organizations, and worship-related academic and pastoral ministries.  

As a faculty colleague, he has served as a member of the professional status committees of both Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary, on several faculty and administrative search committees, and as a principal author of institutional documents related to faith formation, academic freedom, arts-related funding, and university structure.  

As a scholar and public speaker, he explores biblical and systematic theology of worship, the pluriformity of worship practices across cultures and denominational contexts, the role of music and the arts in worship, and culture-shaping practices of pastoral leadership—addressing both academic and lay audiences in many different Christian traditions.   

His published academic writings include Worship Seeking Understanding (Baker Academic, 2003), a co-edited volume, Worship in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), and several recent essays and chapters in books and academic journals, including materials presented in endowed lectures and conferences at Fuller Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, Pepperdine University, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Canadian Mennonite Seminary. 

His pastoral writings include Proclaiming the Christmas Gospel: Ancient Sermons and Hymns for Contemporary Christian Inspiration (Baker, 2004), The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship (Eerdmans, 2007), a quarterly column in Reformed Worship, and essays in Christianity Today, Christian Century and other periodicals, as well as three co-authored children’s books: At Your Baptism (Eerdmans, 2011), At God’s Table/En La Mesa de Dios (Calvin Press, 2017) and At Psalm’s School/En la escuela de los Salmos (GIA, 2019). 

He has been active in collaborative worship resource and congregational song projects, including The Worship Sourcebook (Faith Alive Christian Resources, Baker Books, 2004), Renew! (Hope Publishing, 1995), Sing! A New Creation (CRC Publications, 2001), Singing the New Testament (Faith Alive, 2008), Psalms for All Seasons:  A Complete Psalter for Worship (Faith Alive, 2012), Lift Up Your Hearts (Faith Alive, 2013), and a bilingual Spanish-English hymnal, Santo, Santo, Santo/Holy, Holy, Holy (GIA, 2019).  He has served as editor for three series of books—the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies Series (Eerdmans), Vital Worship, Healthy Congregations (Alban Institute), Church at Worship (Eerdmans)—as well as co-editor, with Pearl Shangkuan, of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Choral Music Series (GIA).  

He has served as president of the board of directors for The Choristers Guild; music director of churches in Michigan and Indiana; research associate at Notre Dame's Center for Pastoral Liturgy; and guest lecturer at worship conferences in several states and provinces, as well as in Hong Kong, Mexico City, Northern Ireland, England, and the Netherlands. He is the recipient of awards from the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, the Hampton Ministers Conferences and Choir Directors and Organists Guild, All Belong, the Brehm Center at Fuller Seminary, and Calvin University.  

Selected Publications

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