Lester Ruth

Research Professor of Christian Worship

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052 Langford

Duke Divinity School
Box 90968
Durham, NC 27708-0968


Ph.D. University of Notre Dame
M.A. University of Notre Dame
Th.M.  Candler School of Theology, Emory University
M.Div.  Asbury Theological Seminary
B.B.A. Stephen F. Austin State University

Lester Ruth is a historian of Christian worship with particular interests in the early church and the last 250 years, especially the history of contemporary praise and worship. He is passionate about enriching the worship life of current congregations, regardless of style. He believes that careful reflection on the worship of other Christians—whether past or present, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox—can serve to enrich the church today.

Lately he has been bringing that approach to inspire contemporary songwriters, having grown concerned about the lack of a Trinitarian dimension in so much worship music.

Dr. Ruth is a member of the Charles Wesley Society and served as president until the spring of 2016. He recently co-authored Lovin’ On Jesus: A Concise History of Contemporary Worship with Dr. Swee Hong Lim. He and Dr. Lim are working on a larger history of this same liturgical phenomenon to be published in 2021. This upcoming book is tentatively entitled Presence and Purpose: The Parallel History of Praise & Worship and Contemporary Worship.

Public presentations by Dr. Ruth are available in the "Additional Information" section below. In addition, you can read more about Dr. Ruth on his website.