The St. Ambrose Hymn Writing Contest

Who says conservative Lutherans don’t like contemporary Christian music in church?  We do.  It’s just that we want the contemporary Christian music to be, you know, hymns, as opposed to pop ditties.  And we do need new hymns.  Towards addressing that need, I am happy to announce that some twenty-somethings in our congregation, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church in Vienna, Virginia, have organized a major hymn-writing competition.  They have raised a $1,000 prize and have arranged for publication.  For details and for just learning about what the big deal is about hymns, check out the website:  St. Ambrose Hymn Writing Contest.

Here are the parameters of the contest:

The Challenge:

Many of the Gospel readings throughout the historic Church Year lack hymns which properly exposit their true sense. It is the purpose of this contest to provide profound and artistic hymns for such unaddressed pericopes (that is, a set of readings given for a certain day). Therefore, the challange of this contest is as follows: to compose a hymn which discerns and declares the meaning of the chosen lectionary texts and properly expresses the congregational response to the work of our Lord in the Word.

The Texts:

The hymn should concern itself with the following texts, with a focus on the gospel reading:

Zephaniah 1:7-16
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30

The Prize:

The winner of the contest shall be awarded $1,000. The winning hymn will be publised by Liturgy Solutions, which will be granted first right-of-refusal to the hymn upon acceptance of the prize money.   The author/composer royalty to be paid by Liturgy Solutions will be 50% of all receipts from sales and any other profitable uses of the hymn (public performance for profit, radio broadcast, etc.).”

So the texts the hymn is supposed to elucidate deal with the Day of the Lord, Jesus coming back like a thief in the night, and the Parable of the Talents.

Yes, I have been asked to be one of the judges, but I will show no favoritism to the tunes of Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, or other artists that I can go on and on about on this blog.  (Well, if Bob Dylan enters the contest with a lectionary hymn, he might have an edge with me.)

But, seriously, you can use an existing hymn tune, if you like, or you can compose your own.  The words will be key.  You know those numbers at the bottom of each page in a hymnbook?  7.7.7., 8.6.8.6, 10.10.10.10.  Those are the number of syllables in each line.  That’s important to know in writing words to go with a particular tune.

Anyway, enter!  Try it.  You need not be Lutheran to win.  There is a thousand dollar prize!  The deadline is December 1.  Maybe your hymn too will be sung in future centuries.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Hmmm… I might try my hand at this….

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Hmmm… I might try my hand at this….

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Dr. Veith, here’s a link to the Liturgy Solutions website for those who may be interested in the publisher of the winning hymn:

    http://www.liturgysolutions.com

  • http://www.roundunvarnishedtale.blogspot.com Cheryl

    Dr. Veith, here’s a link to the Liturgy Solutions website for those who may be interested in the publisher of the winning hymn:

    http://www.liturgysolutions.com

  • Joe

    “You need not be Lutheran to win. ”

    But your hymn does :)

  • Joe

    “You need not be Lutheran to win. ”

    But your hymn does :)

  • SKPeterson

    Joe @ 3 – Many great Anglican hymns are Lutheran that way. ;)

  • SKPeterson

    Joe @ 3 – Many great Anglican hymns are Lutheran that way. ;)

  • Debra Aho

    I would like to do this. Is there a simple explanation of how to make sure the way it’s done is correct? Thank you. I still love the hymns and wish I could hear them more at church and on the radio. God bless you. Deb

  • Debra Aho

    I would like to do this. Is there a simple explanation of how to make sure the way it’s done is correct? Thank you. I still love the hymns and wish I could hear them more at church and on the radio. God bless you. Deb

  • SKPeterson

    Debra @ 5 – If you follow the link above, you can go to page on the website there that explains the rules and limitations.

  • SKPeterson

    Debra @ 5 – If you follow the link above, you can go to page on the website there that explains the rules and limitations.


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