Search for a Hymn Text on the Organ and Congregational Song

The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada is conducting a competition for a theologically rich hymn or song text for congregational singing that highlights the role of the organ in accompanying, leading, empowering, and enlivening congregational song. The hymn should be ecumenical in nature.

This search is for a text, whether written for an existing or a new musical setting. The writer of the winning entry will receive a $500 prize. One or two prizes of $250 each may also be awarded to runners-up. Deadline for submissions is October 31, 2021.

This search is motivated by a generous gift from the George M. Hartung Memorial Fund. An advisory committee including Nathaniel Gumbs, Jan Kraybill, Chuyoung Suter, and Wayne Wold made a number of recommendations for how these funds could best serve the mission of The Hymn Society. One of the committee’s suggestions was to conduct a search for a text that includes the role of the organ in congregational song. Such a text may be useful in a number of situations, including organ dedication events.


  1. The text should be written in an accessible poetic style that lends itself to singing. It should be contemporary and inclusive and avoid the use of binary language, especially with respect to gender. The text should be appropriate for ecumenical settings, with the possibility of at least one stanza that would be appropriate for an interfaith context. The total length of the text should not exceed four stanzas.
  2. If the text is written in a traditional hymnic meter, a suggested tune should be indicated. Melodies of both existing and new tunes must be within the singing capabilities of an average congregation.
  3. A new musical setting may be in either a traditional hymnic style or in a contemporary musical idiom that can be accompanied on the organ.
  4. There is no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted by each writer. Each entry must be submitted through the online submission form at the bottom of this page. There is a $7.00 USD fee for each entry that can be paid at this link by credit card or ACH.
  5. Each text (and music) should be submitted as a PDF document that can be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and uploaded through the submission form. Texts intended for setting to traditional hymn tunes need to be submitted only in words. Texts with a new tune in a traditional hymnic style may be submitted either with the text interlined or printed in block form. Those involving musical settings in a contemporary idiom need to be submitted in two forms: (a) the words and music provided to the congregation and (b) the words and music provided to the musicians.
  6. Engraved manuscripts are not required, but hand-notated manuscripts must be clean and legible. Illegible entries will not be considered.
  7. To preserve anonymity, the name of author and/or composer should not appear on the PDF submitted for judging.
  8. The text (and music), entry form, and appropriate fees must be received no later than October 31, 2021 in order to be considered.
  9. All entries must be previously unpublished and should not be simultaneously submitted for consideration in any other contest or for publication in any collection. All entries become the property of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada for the duration of the competition (until December 31, 2021).
  10. The Hymn Society will offer a prize of $500 for the winning entry, and may also offer a prize of $250 for one or two runners-up. The authors/composers of the winning entries may choose (1) to accept the prize money and transfer the copyright for the words and/or music to The Hymn Society, or (2) decline the prize money and continue to own the copyright to the words and/or music.
  11. If different persons have created the text and the musical setting, the prize will be divided evenly between the author and the composer.
  12. The Hymn Society reserves the right not to award a prize if no entry is deemed meritorious and to award a prize to a submitted text without doing so for the tune submitted with it.
  13. The winning entry will be published in a future issue of The Hymn.