Last fall, Christianity Today announced a hymn contest (CT, Oct. 23, 1981). The specific aim: a new hymn that would use late-twentieth-century imagery. Nearly 500 entries were received, coming from nine countries besides the U.S., with entrants ranging from literary novices to professional theologians.
Most writers’ efforts were truly commendable. Some, however, missed the primary purpose of the contest and sent instead seasonal songs, wedding hymns, and texts for other special occasions. A number of writers submitted original music, although one of the requirements was that the text be set to a standard, existing hymn tune. Others suggested tunes that were not compatible with their texts. Many entrants included letters expressing their appreciation to CT for the contest.
The judges gave careful thought to determining winners, and to the final, published texts. Theological accuracy, contemporary language and imagery, poetic excellence, and congregational singability were all primary considerations. They selected three prize winners and two honorable mentions.
First prize of $250 was awarded for E. Margaret Clarkson’s “God of the Ages,” set to the well-known tune Bunessan (to which “Morning Has Broken” is usually sung). Miss Clarkson, a free-lance writer living in Willowdale, Ontario, Canada, has written numerous other hymns (“So Send I You” is probably one of the most familiar).
The $100 second prize went to another Canadian, Margaret Stinton, for “Lord of Lords,” to be sung to the Welsh tune Cwm Rhondda (“Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”). Mrs. Stinton lives in Calgary, Alberta.
Frederick Steffen of Toccoa, Georgia, was awarded the third prize of $50 for “God’s Eternal Truth Yet Stands.” It has been set to the tune Dix (“For ...1
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