Washington, D.C, June 15, 2023— A call for creativity was issued in January 2023 for Catholic composers, poets, and songwriters to submit original compositions in the first-ever Eucharistic Revival Musical Competition sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis. Aimed at giving a fresh voice to the truths of our faith in ways that cannot be expressed through spoken word, one winning submission in each of two categories–hymn-writing and theme song–was selected to be featured in events marking the National Eucharistic Revival in the winners’ local areas and at the National Eucharistic Congress taking place in Indianapolis in 2024.
Phoenix-based hymn writer, translator, and editor Kathleen Pluth, MA, STL, was selected as the winner in the hymn category for her original text Let the Earth Acclaim Christ Jesus, the third hymn on the Eucharist that she has been privileged to write for the Revival. “Recognition of my efforts by the U.S. bishops is very meaningful to me, because as Catholics we work in communion with our bishops and our Holy Father and depend upon them to discern and encourage the charisms,” Pluth said. “Hymns can express all of the theological virtues, but united as the words are to music, with its power to move the human soul, hymns can especially foster hope, which is especially needed at this time. Jesus in the Eucharist is also the principle of our unity. I am praying that in this time of Eucharistic Revival, many may come to believe in Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and come closer to him!”
Diane Mahoney, a longtime organist, pianist, and cantor at her parish in Burlington, IA, was honored to win the theme song category with her original composition We Do Believe, O Lord, a piece she had been working on for several years. “With the news of the Eucharistic Revival and call for submissions, I suddenly had a goal and a deadline…which could only come from the Holy Spirit!” Mahoney continued, “The text for the refrain fervently states what we “behold”- the Holy Body of Christ and the Sacred Blood of Christ, and it ends with a prayer to help us become what we receive, with our ‘Amen.’ The song is a gift, and I am humbled that it was chosen. May God bless and inspire all through the gift of music and the marvelous gift of himself in the Eucharist!”
A panel of expert judges from Oregon Catholic Press, the Society for Catholic Liturgy, Source and Summit, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, GIA Publications/World Library Publications, and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians convened in Washington D.C. on May 30 to evaluate the three finalists in each category, which were selected from a total of more than 250 original songs received (185 hymn entries and 178 theme song entries). Entries were evaluated on such criteria as poetry, musicality, creativity, theological and doctrinal soundness, beauty, appropriateness for liturgical use, and expression of the mission of the Eucharistic Revival.
Fr. Dustin Dought, Associate Director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship, served as the non-voting chairperson of the committee of judges. “The quantity and quality of entries for the Eucharistic Revival Musical Competition showed what great devotion there is to the sacrament of the Eucharist among the faithful of the dioceses of the United States,” said Fr. Dought. The selection process included three stages: an initial review, a more thorough second one, and a live performance of the three finalists in each category. “These two songs will be used in liturgical and devotional prayer, and my hope is that they enkindle that living relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist which will renew the Church in the United States.”
In addition to receiving a $2,500 cash prize, winners will also have the opportunity for a Spanish version of their songs to be composed for wider impact and celebration in the Church.
Kathleen Pluth and Diane Mahoney are available for interviews. Marilyn Santos, Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, is available for interviews in Spanish. To schedule an interview, contact Carrie Kline at email@example.com.
For a complete press kit and more information on the winners, visit https://www.eucharisticrevival.org/musical-competition-winners-press-kit.
The mission of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is “to support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization, by which the bishops exercise in a communal and collegial manner certain pastoral functions entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus of sanctifying, teaching, and governing (Lumen gentium, no. 21).” The National Eucharistic Congress, Inc., which has been established to carry out the Indianapolis event, is a separate organization working in coordination with the USCCB. Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens is the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Crookston, MN, and serves as the Chairman for the Board of Directors for the National Eucharistic Congress, Inc.