Dr. Melva Costen was a leading voice in church music and worship, with a particular emphasis on African-American music and liturgy. She was a good friend of IWS founder Robert Webber and served faithfully on the IWS Board of Trustees for a number of years, stepping down in 2015 due to poor health.
She earned a B.A. in Education from Johnson C. Smith University, an M.A.T.M. in Teaching Music from the University of North Carolina, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Georgia State University.
Dr. Costen retired as the Helmar Emil Nielsen Professor of Music and Worship at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta, where she had served with her late husband and seminary president, the Rev. Dr. James Costen.
Dr. Costen was a widely recognized authority on music and worship. She retired as the Helmar Emil Nielsen Professor of Music and Worship at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta. She authored several books, including African American Christian Worship, which is widely used by theological seminaries. Dr. Costen chaired the committee that created the 1990 PC (USA) hymnal.
Preceding Melva Costen’s passing were husband James and son James Jr. She is survived by son Craig and daughter Cheryl Hibbler (Melvin), as well as grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family, and friends. Her funeral will be on Saturday, September 16 at 1:00 PM at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
We will miss Dr. Costen deeply. Let us weep with those who weep, and let us join with Dr. Costen’s family and friends in releasing and commending this woman of God to the God of all peace and comfort:
Into you hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Melva. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.