Macalester Plymouth United Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, announces the twenty-third annual international contest for hymn writers. It is our understanding that hymns may motivate the church to be more actively involved in social reform—a vital part of the church’s ministry. This contest carries a prize of $500.00 for the winning entry. Our 2019 contest will be a search for a hymn that laments racism and presents God’s vision for racial justice. Hymns may focus on acknowledging painful histories, honoring differences, repurposing privilege for liberation, or the movement from isolation and fear into beloved community.
This contest is part of a continuing memorial to Macalester Plymouth church member A.A. “Al” Heckman, widely known as Minnesota’s “Dean of Philanthropy.” One of the first men in the nation to earn a graduate degree in social work, he went on to create many private and public partnerships to help the needy. He was a pioneer in the establishment of integrated social services at the city, county, and state levels, and served on the boards of many philanthropic foundations. His life was an inspiration to those seeking to integrate Christian faith with social action.
This is a search for new texts. We encourage the use of familiar meters that may be sung to familiar tunes. However, if you have an original tune for your text, it is most very welcome. New music for the winning hymn may also be sought in the future. Hymns previously published or currently entered in other contests should not be submitted. It is certainly permissible, however, to have a local congregation or other groups sample your hymn before submitting it.
Macalester Plymouth United Church, a member of both the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ, is a liberal and inclusive church with a history of active involvement in contemporary social issues. We suggest avoiding archaic language (e.g. “Which were, and art, and evermore shall be”) and non-inclusive language (e.g. “O brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother”).
There is a $15.00 administrative fee for each hymn submitted. Checks should be made payable to “Macalester Plymouth United Church” with “Hymn Contest” noted in the memo field. Entrants should provide one copy of their hymn with their name and copyright information clearly printed on the document. Please provide a cover letter with your current and correct name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, and the title of your entry/entries. All submissions will be acknowledged within two weeks of receipt.
Entries must be postmarked by December 31, 2019. The judges will arrive at their decision by March 15, 2020. Their decision is final. The winning hymn will be announced after the winners have been notified. Only one winning entry is anticipated; however, judges may decide to split the prize if submissions merit such action. The judges also reserve the right not to select any hymn as the winner. Each entrant will receive notification of the contest winner and a copy of the winning hymn.
Copyright for the winning hymn will be retained by the author. The author agrees to permit the use of his or her hymn by Macalester Plymouth United Church in perpetuity. Churches of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area (Presbyterian Church, USA), and churches of the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ shall be permitted to use the winning hymn(s) for one year (March of 2020 through February of 2021).
Please send entries and correspondences directly to:
Dr. Brad Bradshaw, DMA
Macalester Plymouth United Church
1658 Lincoln Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105