Church of the Servant is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 New Psalm Contest:
“Bring Us Back” (Psalm 85) co-written by Keiko Ying and Kate Bluett, takes First Place.
“Let Us Go” (Psalm 122) written by Greg Scheer takes Second Place.
The Church of the Servant New Psalm Contest, in memory of Ben Fackler, has now completed its eleventh year. In February of 2020 we celebrated ten years of winning Psalm entries with a Psalmfest. That seems like a lifetime ago. The global pandemic of 2020 has wreaked havoc on many facets of life, but the Psalm Contest persisted with a plethora of quality entries! This year’s contest continued to garner Psalm songs from a diverse pool of song-writers, from students to professors, from lay musicians to paid worship leaders, from congregants within our local church to writers from across the oceans, from many denominations and traditions. We are blessed by the music all our contestants have shared with us.
From this plethora of quality entries, the judges selected “Bring Us Back” (Psalm 85), co-written by Keiko Ying and Kate Bluett, to win First Place.
The judges latched onto this Psalm right away from the beginning stages of the judging process. They felt the lament of this Psalm setting was particularly appropriate for the times we find ourselves in during this pandemic and year of political and social unrest in the United States. While the judges are wary of lament songs that become cliche or flippant, they felt this one conveyed a genuine, heart-felt lament both lyrically and musically.
The judges also appreciated the coexistence of lament and hope within this Psalm Setting. The chorus, and in particular the F# on “Bring us back” was a glimmer of unexpected hope, yet the F# was not jarring, nor did it feel out of context of the lament. Instead it made for lovely text painting. For one judge, the chorus became that day’s prayer.
“Bring Us Back” (Psalm 85): PDF, MP3, youtube video,
also available at keikoeying.wixsite.com/website
The judges selected “Let Us Go” (Psalm 122), written by Greg Scheer, to win Second Place.
While Psalm 85 aptly expressed the lament we currently feel, the judges felt that Psalm 122 was a beautiful counterpart: we hope to sing “Let us go to the house of the Lord” soon as we return to in-person worship in our sanctuaries.
The judges were attracted to multiple specific contexts in which they could see this song being used. In addition to its use for a celebration upon the return to worship in our sanctuaries, one judge could imagine its use for a Palm Sunday procession with the congregation starting outside the sanctuary processing in, led by the children singing the refrain, and followed by others adding harmonies as they hear them with the solo verses and peripheral instruments as icing on the cake.
also available at gregscheer.com
We will premiere both winning entries in our
Zoom worship service on
Sunday, February 14, 2021.
We welcome visitors to join us for this service.
Visit our church website that morning to find the Zoom link to the service.
Videos of the composers collaborating with Church of the Servant musicians to teach their songs will be available on our youtube channel after the service.
The goal of this contest is to encourage Psalm singing and writing. So in addition to awarding first- and second-place winners, the judges would like to share their other top choices.
- “Joy Comes With the Morning” (Psalm 30) by Seth Koerner: PDF, MP3
- “We Won’t Stay Down Forever” (Psalm 129) by Greg Scheer: PDF available from gregscheer.com, MP3
- “By the Waters of Sorrow” (Psalm 137) by Dan Kreider: PDF, MP3
Thank you to all those who submitted a composition for this year’s contest. We were blessed to sing, discuss, and reflect on the submissions and are pleased to see so many musicians undertaking the work of writing new Psalm settings for worship.
Thank you also to our judges, who volunteered many hours to make this process possible. If you would like to read more about our judging process, please visit our description of the process here: Judging Process.
COS and the judging committee are grateful for the generosity of the donors who have faithfully funded this contest for 10 years. If you are interested in donating to the New Psalm Contest please contact Maria Stapert at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contribute online HERE.
You can stay up to date on COS Psalm Contest news or subscribe to our mailing list HERE.
You can print and hear the winning entries from past years at www.churchoftheservantcrc.org/newpsalmcontest