The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada is pleased to announce the winner of its 2021 Hymn Tune Search. Of the 213 entries submitted, the committee chose a tune by Larry Visser, Minister of Music at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visser’s tune, entitled EMBRACE, is a setting of “With open arms Christ welcomes you,” a text by Thomas H. Troeger, FHS.
This year’s search sought a new hymn tune for one of five texts written by recent Hymn Society Fellows, all related to the theme of the Society’s 2021 Annual Conference, “Singing Welcome?”
In his announcement during The Hymn Society’s Annual Meeting on July 16, President Benjamin C. Brody noted that Visser’s tune has “a lovely melody, well-crafted and well-harmonized. The tune is simple to learn but has lots of harmonic color which provides interest. The selection committee appreciated the ways the simplicity of the tune matches the theme of Christ welcoming all in the hymn text.”
Given the large number of excellent entries, the committee has also awarded honorable mention for two other composers: John Behnke for his tune WELCOME, also created for Thomas Troeger’s text; and Ephrem Feeley for the tune COOKSTOWN, a setting of Ruth Duck’s text, “We gather here in Christ set free.”
Each year The Hymn Society conducts a search for a new hymn text, hymn tune, or song. These searches are made possible by gifts from Mary Nelson Keithahn, Life Member of The Hymn Society, and the estate of Loryne H. Koebele.