Brian Doerksen | Welcome

Lyrics, Litanies & Culinary Delights

A summer retreat for songwriters and liturgists

Are you a songwriter? Would you like to improve and learn how lyrics, melody, poetry and prayer intersect? Would you like to retreat with a small group who are hungry for the same in a private, beautiful setting? How about sharing some excellent homemade ‘chef quality’ food together then sitting by a river-rock fireplace in the evening? If that sounds good, then ‘Lyrics, Litanies & Culinary Delights’ may be the highlight of your summer.

This retreat begins at 5:00 PM on Sunday, August 25, 2019 with a home-cooked meal in a beautiful location, hosted by Brian & Joyce Doerksen at their family home in Abbotsford, B.C. This will be followed by an intimate house concert in the Shining Rose, the venue on their property where the retreat sessions will occur. Then, for 3 full days (August 26 – 28, 2019) you will learn about the craft and heart of writing lyrics for your songs and litanies to help your community pray together. And to top that off, between learning and listening to each other’s songs, at least once a day you’ll be fed by Steve Rethmeier and Joyce Doerksen. (Steve & Joyce’s cooking is the reason for the ‘Culinary Delights’ in the retreat title.) On the evening of Wednesday August 28, all participants will have a chance to take part in a song circle sharing their creative efforts with their fellow participants and hosts.

Come to learn and leave refreshed and renewed.

This retreat is limited to 12 auditioned participants. You will be among peers who have demonstrated aptitude for writing which will maximize input from your fellow participants as well as your instructors. Each participant should be prepared to present 2 songs (or if preferred litanies) to the whole group and receive constructive feedback from fellow participants and instructors.


Brian Doerksen

Brian’s songs are sung in faith communities around the world. Songs like ‘Come, now is the time to worship’, ‘Faithful One’, and ‘The River.’ Recipient of multiple Covenant Awards (Canada’s GMA Awards) and a JUNO award for ‘Holy God’ in 2008, Brian’s latest release is Grateful containing a dozen new original songs on the themes of gratitude and love including ‘Scars On His Hands’and ‘Everlasting Arms’. In 2018, Brian completed 4 years of launching a ‘Songwriting & Recording’ program for Prairie College in Alberta developing 10 credits of focused songwriting training; the graduates of this program recorded a professionally produced EP of their original songs.He is also part of the band, The SHIYR Poets singing new folk-rock settings of the Psalms in sequence. Married to Joyce for 34 years, they have 4 daughters, 2 sons with special needs (Fragile X Syndrome) and they live in Abbotsford, B.C.

Fran Pratt

Fran Pratt is a pastor, writer, musician, and mystic. Making meaningful and beautiful liturgy to be spoken, practiced, and sung, is at the heart of her creative drive. Fran is author of a new book of congregational litanies, and regularly creates and shares modern liturgy on her website and Patreon. Her prayers are prayed in churches of various sizes and traditions across the globe. She writes, speaks, and consults on melding ancient and new liturgical streams in faith and worship. Fran currently serves as Pastor of Worship and Liturgy at Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas, where she lives with her spouse and two young daughters.  

Cindy Rethmeier

Cindy is one of the pioneer women worship leaders and songwriters of the modern worship era. Sheled and wrote corporate worship songs in the early days of the Vineyard (Exalt the Lord, I Bow Down), and also led and wrote children’s worship songs (I Want to be Like Jesus, Good News). Her most recent song is Kyrie Eléison(with Ted Kim). She spent 7 years in an Anglican Church writing musical settings for prayers and seasonal antiphons for the liturgy. Cindy lives in Southern California with her husband of 38 years, Steve. She has 2 married children & 9 grandchildren who are the inspiration for name songs & lighthearted, everyday life songs.


Retreat Costs:

$999 CDN Early bird rate until April 30, 2019

$1149 CDN from May 1 – June 30, 2019 (space permitting)

$1299 CDN from July 1 – July 31, 2019 (space permitting)


Not included in the tuition are your travel & hotel costs.Information on how to book hotel accommodations will be given upon acceptance. A group rate has been arranged at the Sandman Abbotsford Airport Hotel.When looking at flight options, if you fly into the Abbotsford Airport (YXX) you won’t need to rent a car as the hotel and Doerksen’s home are very close. The Vancouver airport (YVR) is about 1 hour away and would require a car rental (unless alternate arrangements can be made. Uber is not yet an option in B.C.) Please wait until acceptance has been confirmed before booking any flights.

If you would like to preview the retreat venue – check out Joyce’s AirBnB site; The ‘Shining Rose’ is a highly rated personal retreat destination throughout the year when Brian isn’t using it as a creative space or for a gathering like this.


If you want to be part of this special retreat here is your ‘to do’ list:

  1. Submit your information- Name, email, age (18 & up), male or female, & where you live, and in a few sentences, share why you feel like this event is for you.

Email this to with the subject line – Lyrics & Litanies 2019 Application

  1. Submit a songwriting demo

Submit a simple demo and chart of 2 of your original songs. Don’t be intimidated by the audition process. We are not looking for professional, we are listening for potential.

Dropbox is simple and convenient – or you can send the files via a service like if you don’t have a Dropbox account. The key is to make the demo clear enough so that we can hear the melody and understand the words, along with a simple PDF chart (word and chords is sufficient.) A demo made with the voice memos app on an iPhone works well or you can film a simple video using your phone. (FYI - we use Apple computers and iPhones so the audio file you send has to play on Apple devices – we won’t be able to play a Windows exclusive file.) Include in your Dropbox folder a current picture of yourself (not necessary if your demo is a video)

In the email with your personal information include the link for your demos, charts and picture to

  1. Send a non-refundable registration fee of $50 CDN to (using PayPal). Each registration is given a number based on when we receive your deposit, demos and information. Registrants will be considered in order.

One we have received your deposit, your demos and information, we will notify you that we are reviewing your application.

We are auditioning participants so that you can feel safe to open up and share what you are creating in a small group of peers who have demonstrated aptitude for songwriting and creative writing. We want your investment of attending this retreat to be beneficial and safe for everyone coming.

If we receive enough qualified applicants that we choose to accept by April 15, 2019 the retreat will be full (and a waiting list opened for those interested.) You will be notified via email that you have been accepted; paying 50% of the retreat costs by April 30thwill secure your spot (the balance will be owed by June 30th). Only apply if you are serious about attending as a late cancelation could leave an empty spot.

REFUND POLICY: YOUR DEPOSIT OF $50 IS NON-REFUNDABLE and covers the time and work it takes to review your application and demos. If you are accepted, you’ll be invoiced for 50% of the retreat costs on April 15, 2019 ($500) which will be due no later than April 30, 2019 to keep your spot. The balance of the retreat costs ($449) will be invoiced on June 15 and due by June 30, 2019.  If you are accepted and need to cancel by June 15, 2019, you’ll be refunded $500. After June 15ththere is no guaranteed refund unless we fill the spot (we will have a cancellation list). If the spot is filled by July 31, 2019 then you’ll still receive your refund. If you cancel after August 1, 2019 there are no refunds.

Scholarships are available.If a potential participant demonstrates strong songwriting aptitude and has been accepted, but finances would be a barrier to attending, they may apply for a scholarship. We will offer 1 full scholarship ($949 = $999 minus the $50 registration fee) and one 50% scholarship ($500). These scholarships will be awarded in the first group of applicants by April 15, 2019 and participants notified. Please be aware that we will not be able to give a scholarship to everyone who applies for one – preference will be given to those who a) demonstrate the highest writing potential in their demos and b) are 18 – 29 years old.


Lyrics, Litanies & Culinary Delights Schedule – August 2019


Sunday August 25, 2019

4:00 PM          Check in to hotel (Just up the road from the Doerksen’s home)

4:45 PM          Shuttle to Doerksen’s home

5:00 PM          Welcome social

6:00 PM          Dinner served

7:30 PM          Opening Concert (Brian, Fran, Cindy & Steve)


Monday August 26, 2019

(Breakfast at one of the restaurants by your hotel)

8:45 AM          Pick up at hotel

9:00 AM          Session 1 at the Shining Rose

10:30 AM       Stretch break

10:45 AM       Session 2

12 noon          Lunch at the Doerksen’s

1:30 PM          Session 3

3:00 PM          Stretch break

3:15 PM          Session 4

5:00 PM          End of Day 1 – shuttle back to hotel

(Dinner at one of the restaurants by your hotel)

Flex evening to write, co-write and rest.


Tuesday August 27, 2019

(Breakfast at one of the restaurants by your hotel)

9:00 AM          Session 5 at the Shining Rose

10:30 AM       Stretch break

10:45 AM       Session 6

12:45 PM        Shuttle back to hotel

1 PM               Lunch at one of the restaurants by your hotel

2 – 5 PM         Flex afternoon to write, co-write and rest.

5:00 PM          Shuttle to the Shining Rose

5:30 PM          Dinner at Doerksen’s

7:00 PM          Session 7

9:00 PM          End of Day 2; Optional Fireside visit / hot tub & swim – shuttle back to hotel


Wednesday August 28, 2019

(Breakfast at one of the restaurants by your hotel)

9:00 AM          Session 8 at the Shining Rose

10:30 AM       Stretch break

10:45 AM       Session 9

12:30 PM        Lunch at the Doerksen’s

1:30 PM          Session 10

3:30 PM          End of teaching and discussion sessions

3:30 – 6 PM    Flex time – write, co-write, rest and prep for evening concert (shuttle available for hotel as needed)          

6:00 PM          Party at Doerksen’s (Appies served)

7:00 PM          Song Circle (each attendee has the option of sharing a song & story with the whole group – can involve other students or instructors)

9:00 PM          Optional Fireside visit / hot tub & swim

10:00 PM        End of retreat - shuttle back to hotel