An American Baptist Church
A Welcoming and Affirming Church, A Safe Space For All

2020 Anthem Competition Guidelines

First Baptist Church of Worcester, Massachusetts
The Fourteenth Annual International Anthem Competiti
First Prize: $1000
Second Prize: $500
Third Prize: $300

For composers under the age of 45 (born after January 2, 1975)

The First Baptist Church Anthem Competition seeks to encourage emerging composers to create anthems on texts with meaningful and relevant spiritual themes. We welcome submissions from composers of all faiths and backgrounds for use in both liturgical and concert settings, which can be sung by both community and professional ensembles alike.

Anthem submissions should be composed according to the following guidelines:

1. SATB-4-part style, with organ or piano accompaniment or a cappella. Part writing may include unison and diverse voice combinations, including unaccompanied sections. Divisi should be used carefully (up to 6 parts only) and sparingly. In addition,inserted solos are acceptable. All melodies must be original, and not based on hymn tunes or preexistent tunes by other composers. The duration of your piece should be approximately four to eight minutes maximum. Compositions should be performable by a medium-level SATB choir and instrumentalists so that it is ideal for use in liturgical as well as concert settings. All pieces must include a piano reduction of the chorus part for rehearsal use.

2. The following text has been written for the Anthem Competition and may be used freely.

Expecting a River
Pamela Liew, 2019

“… let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Amos 5:24 NRSV

I thought you’d lead me beside the still waters.
I wasn’t expecting a river.

God of the river, God of us all,
You knew these waters when they formed a cloud,
These pebbles when they were just mountains,
You send the river to seek the low places,
Quenching the world with its fountains,

God of the river, God of us all,
You taught the waters to juggle with sunshine,
Unsettling the static with motion,
To master the beauty of fearlessly falling,
Winding their way to your ocean,

God of the river, God of us all,
You’ve seen the ways we’ve exploited the waters,
Suffering from short-sighted choices,
Drowning the future to live in the moment,
Favoring self-serving voices,

God of the river, God of us all,
You sent your prophets to call for a river,
Rolling with justice for all,
In all generations you’ve summoned that river
Preferring the weak and the small,

God of the river, God of us all,
You taught the river to rise with the storms,
The currents to rage and to roar,
Breaching the banks and exceeding the boundaries,
To make ways that weren’t there before,

God of the river, God of us all,
I thought you’d lead me beside the still waters.
I wasn’t expecting a river.“

The composer may supply their own text —or select one that they may use legally— consistent with our theme of Transformation and Justice.

3. Entries must be submitted without your name on manuscript itself. Each entry will be judged without reference to the composer. Submissions should be immediately readable, preferably engraved in one of the primary computer music writing programs, such as Finale or Sibelius.

4. All entries should include your full name, identification, your birth date, and City of Birth, as well as your current address and phone. All of this information should be submitted in an electronic file (if you are sending your entry by electronic means) or in an enclosed sealed business envelope (if you are applying by postal mail).

5. The submissions must be newly written for this specific competition.

6. Electronic submissions are preferable, and are accepted until March 2nd, 2020. By Email, send to in PDF format with proper cover letter for identification. However, if you wish, you may submit your entry (or entries) by postal mail to:
2020 Anthem Competition, First Baptist Church, 111 Park Avenue,
Worcester MA 01609.

Please note: The postmark date must be no later than March 2nd, 2020. Scores that are submitted by postal mail will not be returned to the sender following the competition.

7. A jury of three impartial judges will review all entries and the winner will be announced no later than April 5, 2020. An official first performance will be given by the Chancel Choir and Minister of Music, Wesley Hall, at the First Baptist Church on the Final Sunday of Music & Arts Week, May 2nd, 2020.

8. The work that receives the first prize will be recorded by the First Baptist Chancel Choir during or shortly after the 2020 Music and Arts Week, and the composer will be supplied with a recording shortly thereafter. The prize money will be sent within two weeks of the first performance of the work. FBC retains the rights not to select winners if no compositions are deemed prizeworthy.

9. The composer retains the rights to publish the composition and the following will appear on the title page of the published (or self-published) work: “Commissioned by the First Baptist Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, May 2nd 2020”

10. First Baptist Church will have unlimited rights to copy, perform and record the composition for its own use or for commercial distribution.

11. Please direct all questions to Wesley Hall, Minister of Music, An excellent resource to consider for composing for the pipe organ is A Guide to the Pipe Organ for Composers and Others (available through the American Guild of Organists)