SAN DIEGO — From 13th-century St. Thomas Aquinas to contemporary singer-songwriter Sarah Hart, many have tried their hand at writing a hymn about the Eucharist.
The Eucharistic Revival Musical Competition, recently launched by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, is giving others a chance to join their ranks.
“The mystery of the Eucharist is expressed particularly poignantly through the beauty of poetry and music,” said Marilyn Santos, associate director of that secretariat. “Congregational song unites us as a community and reminds us that we are one Body of Christ.”
Catholic composers, poets and songwriters may submit creative entries in a hymn-writing category and a theme song category to give a fresh voice to the truths of the Catholic faith.
Award-winning submissions will be featured at the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, used in liturgies and events marking the ongoing Eucharistic Revival in dioceses nationwide, and receive a $2,500 cash prize.
Submissions will be accepted through April 21; the entry fee is $25. Entries can be in English, Spanish or other language. They will be evaluated for poetry, musicality, creativity, theological and doctrinal soundness, beauty, appropriateness for liturgical use, and expression of the mission of the Eucharistic Revival. Especially sought are texts expounding on the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus and expressing Catholics’ unity as the Body of Christ.
A panel of expert judges will choose a winner for each category to be announced on June 9.
The National Eucharistic Revival, which began last June on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, is a multi-year initiative by the U.S. bishops to reinvigorate devotion in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. A highlight will be the National Eucharistic Congress, held July 17 to 21, 2024, which is expected to draw more than 80,000 Catholics.
“The Musical Competition is just the beginning of a number of initiatives on the horizon for the Revival in 2023 that celebrate the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist,” said Tim Glemkowski, executive director of the National Eucharistic Congress, Inc., an organization established to plan the 2024 event in Indianapolis. “Beauty is the mark of a loving God, and we are excited to see creative expressions from talented Catholic artists that embrace the beauty of Christ and give new light, color and voice to the truths of our faith.”
The revival was prompted by a shocking Pew Research Center Survey released in August 2019, which showed that only one-third of U.S. Catholics believe that the bread and wine at Mass are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.
Noreen McInnes, who directs the Office for Liturgy and Spirituality in the Diocese of San Diego, said the national revival is important because it seeks to help Catholics understand “what a gift and a blessing the Eucharist is in our lives, (and) to make sure that it’s reverenced and appreciated.”
Noting that the San Diego Diocese is home to many talented liturgical musicians, McInnes said she would be happy to see a local Catholic win the competition.
“I would encourage everyone to sit down and give it a try,” she said. “The Holy Spirit inspires … all of us.”
Does she plan to take her own advice? Yes.
“I’m going to try to write something. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make time to pray and reflect on the Eucharist.”
Visit eucharisticcongress.org/musicalcompetition for information and guidelines.