Church of the Servant is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 New Psalm Contest:
First Place goes to “Blessing” (Psalm 20)
written by Greg Scheer and Kate Bluett.
Second Place goes to “I Wait for You in Silence” (Psalm 62)
written by David Hill.
The Church of the Servant New Psalm Contest, in memory of Ben Fackler, now completing its thirteenth year, continues to garner many quality Psalm songs from a diverse group of songwriters. While some writers faithfully submit their songs year after year, we are impressed by and grateful for the number of new writers to submit each year. We hope that this contest will be an encouragement to songwriters to continue writing. And we hope that this contest will be a blessing to the Church, continuing to provide it with new Psalm songs for congregations to sing.
The number of strong entries this year made the judges’ decisions difficult, but they kept coming back to “Blessing” (Psalm 20) by Greg Scheer and Kate Bluett. The judges loved many aspects of both the text and the tune of this Psalm 20 setting, but they were particularly impressed with how well the two were matched. The gentle blessing of Bluett’s text was woven seamlessly into Scheer’s gentle melody. The judges could imagine it being used as the benediction or a sending-forth song at the conclusion of a worship service, as well as a lullaby being sung by a parent putting a child to bed. Scheer’s melody was sing-able and easy to harmonize with. And despite all the changes in time signature, the melody flowed tenderly. Bluett’s text stayed true to Psalm 20, yet it brought fresh imagery to the Psalm. One judge described the text as “completely natural…and surprising” – a great combo for a new rendering of a Psalm.
“Blessing” (Psalm 20): PDF, MP3, Piano accompaniment, String quartet arrangement
“I Wait for You in Silence” (Psalm 62) by David Hill struck the judges as hauntingly beautiful and evocative. The melody was easily sing-able, and the judges felt it grow on them as they sung it together. Hill strategically let the melody climb and grow in strength as the text moved toward “For you alone are strong.” The judges particularly appreciated the E-flat minor chord on “mercy” in the third line of the Psalm. That chord evokes a sense of suffering, yet the text (“Your mercy suffers long”) is the most hopeful line in the whole Psalm. Hopefulness and suffering are all rolled together in a single chord. Overall, the judges thought the Psalm was able to bring them to a place of trusting while waiting for God.
“I Wait for You in Silence” (Psalm 62): PDF, MP3, Choral arrangement with cello obligato (coming soon)
We will premiere both winning entries in our
worship service on
Sunday, February 12, 2023
We welcome visitors to join us for this service in person or by Zoom.
Visit our church website that morning to find the Zoom link to 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 have also chosen a few honorable mentions that they would commend to congregations for singing:
“You’ve Searched Me, God, You Know Me” (Psalm 139) by Pat Mayberry: PDF
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 over 10 years. If you are interested in donating to the New Psalm Contest please contact Maria Stapert at email@example.com 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