The two winning compositions of the Music Competition for the National Eucharistic Revival sponsored by the bishops have just been announced on June 15.
The submission chosen for the official Hymn is “Let the Earth Acclaim Christ Jesus,” by Kathleen Pluth, MA, STL, of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Eucharistic Revival Theme Song “We Do Believe, O Lord” was created by Diane Mahoney, a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Burlington, Iowa.
Diane said she was stunned and in disbelief when she received the call that her song had been selected. “Tears of gratitude flowed along with thanks to God for this astonishing honor!”
Kathleen and Diane will have the honor of hearing their songs performed at the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, and the songs will be used in liturgies and events surrounding the Eucharistic Revival across the country.
The most important thing for each of these accomplished and evangelization-minded musicians, however, is the privilege of expressing and sharing with others their own faith in the Eucharist in ways that will inspire their fellow Catholics through a medium that goes beyond words.
“Hymns have a unique staying power within the soul, because they are united to music,” said Kathleen, who wrote the hymn “Let the Earth Acclaim Christ Jesus.” “Homilies are much more important to the Mass than hymns are, absolutely, but it’s harder to remember a homily while driving home from Mass or doing the dishes. People hum hymns and sing them in their hearts after Mass because of the music, and they are even more memorable because they rhyme. People even sing hymns to loved ones who have lost their memories or who are dying. My hope is that the reality of the Eucharist will become more alive in the hearts of at least some of those who sing this hymn.”
Diane admits that the process of writing “We Do Believe, O Lord”—now the official Theme Song for the Revival—called for something greater than her abilities alone. “There were so many ideas which could have come only from the Holy Spirit.” Diane explained how the text uses “the words of the distraught father from the Gospel of Mark 9:24, (using a plural version of his confession of faith: Help our unbelief), and the text for the refrain fervently states what we ‘behold’—the Holy Body of Christ and the Sacred Blood of Christ. But it was the inspiration to superimpose the chant tune, ‘Adoro Te Devote’ over the melody of the refrain that pulled everything together.”
There were a total of 363 submissions for the musical competition. Marilyn Santos, Associate Director for the USCCB’s Secretariat of Evangelization & Catechesis, said, “I was overwhelmed by the generosity of time and talent that the composers dedicated to this competition. It was a wonderful experience of collaborative ministry. What strikes me is the desire of so many to share their personal love for the Eucharist and help others deepen in their own Eucharistic faith and devotion.”
In a nod to the flowering of artists working to enhance Catholic worship with music, Kathleen reflected: “I feel very grateful to the organizers of this competition for receiving my text kindly, especially since there are many strong hymn text writers working right now.”
Both songs will be released once professional recordings are completed. All resources and official recordings will be available for free at the Eucharistic Revival website, www.EucharisticRevival.org, so that they can be sung in parishes, groups, and gatherings throughout the coming year and into the future.
Dr. Thomas Octave, one of the judges of the contest, and the Director of Sacred Music, Diocese of Greensburg and Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, is sure that both the Hymn and the Theme Song can easily be used in both large and small celebrations. “In any setting, the assemblies will be able to pray and sing them with ease and they will assist the faithful in their reflecting on the great gift and mission that the Eucharist is.” Alexis Kutarna, another judge and Director of Sacred Music at Cathedral High School in Houston, TX, was deeply impressed by the theological richness of both pieces. Commenting on the hymn, she also noted, “The winning hymn, with its theological integrity, poetic craft, and yet ease of singing, is a significant contribution to liturgical music in the Eucharistic Revival. Since the text can be set to a number of different well-known hymn tunes, it will be eminently flexible in its ability to find a place in every parish and Catholic school, and provide the clarity of Eucharistic faith so desperately needed in Catholic liturgical music.”
The hopes of the bishops for these two songs are that they will inspire and unite the People of God in Eucharistic zeal so that we can then be sent out as Eucharistic Missionaries to the world.