meaningful and artistic
for liberal congregations
The Music Ministry of
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
This annual and international church music contest calls authors and composers to create congregational hymns, choral anthems and orchestral music that engage and exclaim liberal Christian theology and associated themes. The 2015 Church Music Search is for an SATB choral anthem with keyboard accompaniment (organ or piano) that expresses the meaning and celebration of Easter from a theologically-liberal viewpoint.
- Winning Anthem: Commonwealth of Love. Music and words by Chris O’Hara.
- Honorable Submission: Dawn. Music by George B. Chave. Words by Martha Kirby Capo.
- Read more about our winners.
Criteria for Words
- Texts should reflect the tenets of liberal Christian theology.
A description of liberal theology is offered by Gary Dorrien in his book, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion 1805-1900 (p. xxiii)
Fundamentally it is the idea of a genuine Christianity not based on external authority. Liberal theology seeks to reinterpret the symbols of Christianity in a way that creates a progressive religious alternative to atheistic rationalism and to theologies based on external authority. Specifically, liberal theology is defined by its openness to the verdicts of modern intellectual inquiry, especially the natural and social sciences; its commitment to the authority of individual reason and experience; its conception of Christianity as an ethical way of life; its favoring of moral concepts of atonement; and its commitment to make Christianity credible and socially relevant to modern people.
- The “8 Points” of ProgressiveChristianity.org also provide a concise and instructive description of desired theologies for submitted texts: www.progressivechristianity.org/the-8-points/.
- The Frequently Asked Questions about Pullen Memorial Baptist Church as well as a description of the church’s worship give insight into the kind of church for whom the music of this search will serve.
- Texts should not include archaic language, and should follow the guidance of Pullen’s Statement on Inclusive Language:
With the understanding that all language for God is metaphorical, and that language instills truths of equality and justice in human relationships, we intentionally use inclusive language in our worship. This includes changing scripture to gender-neutral language or using a variety of feminine, masculine, and non-gender images in referring to God and humanity. Hymns, litanies, prayers, choral offerings, and other worship elements are also chosen, altered, or created to express this inclusive and expansive view of God and God’s people.
- Highly encouraged in this search are texts that express and explore a non-theistic view of God. (A theistic view defines God as a separate, supernatural being, while a non-theistic view explores an infinite variety of ways to describe and perceive the sacred.) The use of non-anthropomorphic language in referring to God is welcomed (ex. “Love,” “Breath,” “Source,” “Being” etc.) as are pantheistic views (expressing God in and through all that is) and words that support a faith informed by intellectual inquiry, science and the arts and other disciplines.
- If poetic texts include anthropomorphic images for God, authors are encouraged to explore the unlimited range of metaphoric language for God instead of overused and oppressive patriarchal images (such as “Lord,” “Father,” “King” etc.) It is preferable for newly-imagined (ex. “Poet of the Cosmos”), reclaimed sacred feminine (ex. “Mother Eagle”) or non-gender images of God (ex. “Rock”) to be expressed in the text. Providing balance to centuries of male domination through language, feminine God-images are welcomed, or texts that include both feminine and masculine imagery.
- Previous hymn commissions for Pullen church provide good examples of desired text quality and content:
- This search is for texts in the English language, though other languages with included English translation would be considered.
Criteria for Music
Music should be artistic and well-crafted for the particular genre and performing group. While challenging choral anthems or orchestral compositions are welcomed, the music should also be accessible for performance by volunteer church choirs and orchestras. Accompaniments should be of reasonable difficulty. Hymn tunes in unison or four-parts should be composed for effective and successful congregational singing. Vocal and instrumental ranges should fall into age-appropriate parameters consistent with music education ideals.
Copyright and Use of Winning Selection and Honorable Mention
Copyright of the Winning Selection and Honorable Mention will remain with each author or composer; however, the Pullen Music Ministry will retain the right to print and use the Winning Selection in perpetuity. The Honorable Mention may also be printed and used by Pullen within a year of the search’s end.
The winning hymn, anthem or instrumental work (as well as the honorable mention) will be celebrated and premiered at a worship service or special event of the Pullen congregation.
A listing that includes a description, print and audio samples of each winning selection and honorable mention will be placed on the Church Music Search page of the Pullen website along with the creator’s and/or publisher’s information in order to promote the works for use by other churches and to document the Church Music Search history. A framed copy of the first page of the work with associated information will be displayed in Pullen’s Music Ministry space.
The Pullen Music Ministry will assist as possible in supporting the winning composer/author in seeking a publisher for the winning entry. If published, the work is to include the following dedication line:
Winning Anthem of the 2015 Church Music Search
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina
Church Music Search 2015
The call for 2015 submissions is now closed. Read about our winners! Check back for information on Church Music Search 2016.
After submitting entry, use the form at the bottom of the page to pay your entry fee using a debit or credit card via PayPal, or send a check to:
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
Church Music Search
1801 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27605
Make checks to: Pullen Memorial Baptist Church with “Church Music Search 2015” in the memo line.
For additional information contact:
Larry E. Schultz, Minister of Music
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church