Hymn Competition

Update: Read about the winner of the 2021 Hymn Competition.

Duke University Chapel invites hymnwriters and poets to submit entries for its 2021 hymn competition. The winning submission will be sung in worship at Duke Chapel, published by MorningStar Music/ECS Publishing Group in a collection of new and recent hymns, and will be considered for inclusion in the forthcoming Duke Chapel Hymnal. The winning hymnwriter will receive a prize of $1,500 USD. Download the entry form here.

Submission Guidelines

  • Duke Chapel seeks new hymn submissions centered on the theme of compassion, one of five values associated with the Chapel’s mission and vision statements (see chapel.duke.edu/about-chapel/mission). We particularly encourage texts that do one or more of the following:

    • include allusions to particular Bible verses about, or Biblical examples of, compassion;

    • connect compassion with discipleship, justice, evangelism, and other aspects of Christian life;

    • define compassion as broadly as possible with respect to the human family, and ecumenical and interfaith relations.

  • Submissions must be new. They may not have been previously published or publicly performed or sung. Hymnwriters must certify that their submissions are their own, original creative work.

  • The meter of each submission (e.g. LM, CMD, 8887) should be clearly indicated on the submission.

  • A preferred melody should be identified by tune name (e.g. HYFRYDOL, AZMON, DARWALL’S 148TH) on the submission, unless a new tune is being submitted with the text. If a new tune is being submitted with the text, both the melody and a harmonization or chord symbols should be provided. If the tune is composed by someone other than the hymnwriter, proof of permission to submit the new tune must be included with the submission.

  • All entries should be created with a word processing program and submitted as PDF files. If entries include music (i.e. a new tune), the music should be engraved/typeset. Handwritten entries and scores will not be accepted.

  • The author’s name and (if applicable) the composer’s name should not appear on the entry/score. Author’s and composer’s names should only appear on the entry form, which must be completed and included with the submission. The entry form may be found at the bottom of this page.

  • Entries should be submitted electronically via email to chapelmusic@duke.edu. The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2021. A complete submission includes:

    • completed entry form;

    • submitted hymn, with author’s name removed;

    • proof of composer’s permission to submit a new tune, as applicable.

  • Please submit only one entry per applicant.

Adjudication Details

  • Entries will be evaluated blindly by a panel of internal and external adjudicators. Entries will be evaluated based on their poetry, imagery, originality, theology, and relationship to the theme (compassion).

  • For entries submitted with original tunes: Duke Chapel reserves the right to accept both text and tune, or text alone.

  • Duke Chapel reserves the right not to select a winner, or to select multiple winners. In the event that multiple winners are selected, the cash prize will be divided equally between them. All winning entries will have the same publication and performance opportunities.

  • For performance: the winners will be notified in advance of the date when their hymns will be sung at Duke Chapel.

  • For publication: MorningStar/ECS will assume copyright ownership of, or copyright administration for, the winning entry/entries. Authors and composers will be supplied with a contract directly from MorningStar/ECS.

Download the entry form here.