I Eat Rejection Like Pizza

Anybody for a slice of humble pie?

A few years ago FaithAlive asked composers to submit tunes for four texts slated for their forthcoming hymnal. The hymnal is no longer forthcoming. Lift Up Your Hearts was published this year, and as expected, all four of my submissions were rejected. Let us wallow, shall we?

Our first slice of humble pie is dished up courtesy of Timothy Dudley-Smith and his text “As in That Upper Room.” Richard VanOss was the winner with his tune UPPER ROOM (LUYH #156). We took very different approaches in our tunes, and I don’t feel bad conceding victory to Richard’s direct and singable solution:

VanOss versus Scheer / VanOss wins!

We go back for seconds with Brian Wren’s “We Are Your People.” SPIRIT-PRAYER by Larry E. Schultz won the right to accompany the text on page 248 of the hymnal. Larry’s spritely tune is likable, but flattens out the subtleties of the text’s rhythmic scheme. Having said that, mine is kind of odd. But it grows on you.

Schultz versus Scheer / The jury is still out.

I don’t want a third helping of humble pie, but Sylvia Dunstan has a fork poised at my pie-hole ready to force feed me with a crushing loss to David Landegent’s BETA, which appears with Dunstan’s text “Blest are the Innocents” (LUYH #108). She originally wrote the text to go with the tune of “Be Thou My Vision,” and I stuck close to that tune with a simple pentatonic folk tune. Dave, on the other hand, went with a jazz ballad style that, in my opinion, takes a poignant text on the Slaughter of the Innocents in an entirely wrong direction. The Fmaj13 chord at the end of the hymnal arrangement is the final nail in the aesthetic coffin.

Landegent versus Scheer / I was robbed!

Though I feel absolutely stuffed with humility, there is one more slice of humble pie waiting for me. In this case, my tune for Stephen Starke’s text, “Jesus, Greatest at the Table,” lost to no one. This is almost as humiliating as the time in high school I got third place in a composition contest–when there was no second or first place winner. (Who does that to a kid?) My only consolation is that I have company in my rejection. I feel your pain, Stephen. Really, I do.

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2 Responses to I Eat Rejection Like Pizza

  1. We have a saying in my line of work: If you’re not getting rejections, you’re not aiming high enough.

  2. Greg Scheer says:

    I’m not sure if this translates to music field. The rejections (and successes) seem more random in music. Given that, my approach lately is to assume rejection, be delightfully surprised by success, but mostly spend my time doing things that I think are satisfying no matter what fate they meet.

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