Organ, Sacred Music, and Historical Keyboards

2019 Utech Hymn Tune Competition

The 2019 Utech Hymn Competition is now concluded. We are pleased to announce the winning submission and its composer:


Dr. Larry Visser
Minister of Music and Chancel Organist
LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church
Grand Rapids, MI

The 2019 Utech Hymn Competition called for a congregational hymn setting of a newly commissioned hymn text by Dr. Carl Daw, “Out of Silence Music Rises.” Entries were accepted through the month of July, and judging took place during August and September. The judges were:

  • Dr. John Ferguson: Professor of Organ and Cantor Emeritus, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN.
  • Mr. Peter DuBois: Director of Music and Organist, Third Presbyterian Church, Rochester, NY.
  • Dr. Jennifer Pascual: Director of Music and Organist, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City.


PARADISE was selected from 131 individual entries. The composition will receive its first singing on November 1st, at the 2019 Utech Hymn Festival Evensong. Dr. Visser will also be the recipient of the $3,000 Utech Hymn Competition Prize.


The George W. Utech Congregational Hymnody Fund at the Eastman School of Music

The George W. Utech Congregational Hymnody Fund was established in 2011 through the generosity of Mrs. Krestie Utech in memory of her husband George, who was a published writer of hymn texts. From its inception this fund has been administered by the Organ, Sacred Music, and Historical Keyboards Department at Eastman. The Utech fund is intended to support “the writing, composition, and promotion of texts and music for Christian congregational singing.”

Through a combination of commissions and competitions the Utech Fund fosters the creation of new hymns—poetic texts and musical settings. The first text commission went to Timothy Dudley-Smith, who, in 2012, provided three hymn texts based on Romans, chapter 8. Three composers were commissioned to set those texts: Carson Cooman, Scott Perkins, and Philip Stopford.

The second set of commissions was part of Eastman’s 2016 EROI Festival (Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative), which focused on “Breath for Singing: The Organ and the Human Voice.” On commission from the Utech Fund, Thomas Troeger provided a new text “Lord, Keep Us Modest When We Claim,” and Nico Muhly composed a setting (subsequently published in 2016 by St. Rose Music Publishing Co. and Chester Music Limited).

The first text competition took place in 2017, specifying a text suitable for a hymnal category of “Gathering,” “Beginning of Service,” or “Morning Hymns,” the text to be sung to either of two Genevan Psalter tunes: Psalm 136 or Psalm 138. The panel of judges—Emily Brink, Carl Daw, Sister Delores Dufner, and Martin Jean—evaluated 28 text submissions anonymously and unanimously chose a text by Wayne Wold entitled “Voices Arise, Let Joy Be Heard,” sung to “Psalm 138” from the Genevan Psalter. The first singing of this hymn occurred at the 2017 Utech Hymnody Symposium and Festival.

The 2019 Utech Hymnody Symposium and Festival (November 1, 2019) will feature the first singing of a newly commissioned text by Carl P. Daw, Jr.: “Out of Silence Music Rises.”