As you know, I like nothing more than entering composition contests. More specifically, I love winning composition contests.
My most recent lunge for the elusive musical ring was the WCRC hymn contest. A number of international Reformed organizations are coming together this year to form one mega-international-Reformed organization called the World Council of Reformed Churches. To celebrate this historic event, they sent out a call for songs based on Ephesians 4–unity in the Spirit. I entered two songs.
The first, “Make Us One within You Spirit,” has a history of rejection. When I was named runner-up (which is something like be named “the guy who lost and whose name will be made public”) in the CRC Sesquicentennial hymn contest, I thought it would a nice gesture to compose a new tune for Bert Polman’s winning text, which had been paired with the ubiquitous NETTLETON (“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”). I was quite pleased with my new tune–which I named SASQUATCH, for obvious reasons–but it slowly made it’s way to the back burner. When the WCRC Ephesians 4 contest came along, I decided that SASQUATCH would make an excellent, regal tune that would fit the festive uniting event well. I set to work on a Ephesians 4/unity text, and came up with a Trinitarian text that I thought would be a shoe in for the prize.
I was wrong.
I also entered a more Taize-like hymn named “There Is One Body.” Not knowing the setting in which the hymn would be sung, I thought a more ecumenical, liturgical song would work well for communion or gathering. So I wrote one with a verse/refrain structure. It is not as bold as the first song, but has a good flow between cantor and congregation, organ and piano.
The judges chose five (count ’em, FIVE) winners, and neither of mine were on the list. To add insult to injury, a number of the judges are friends. Ouch! (Granted, the submissions were anonymous. But still, ouch!) This is on the heels of losing the Astoria bicentennial song contest, being disqualified from the CRC justice song contest (I could have been a contender, but instead they made me be a judge: Living Justly and From the City), and countless publisher rejections. While I lick my wounds, take a listen to my award-losing songs: