“The judges certainly have their work cut out,” says Bishop Dr. Michael Bünker, General Secretary of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, expressing his delight at the number of submissions to the CPCE’s Reformation Song Contest and adding that “a total of 106 entries in a wide range of languages are up for consideration.” The full spread of denominations is also reflected with entrants from Lutheran, Reformed and Methodist churches.
At its first adjudicating session, the international panel (comprising the CPCE’s Liturgy Officer, Prof. Jochen Arnold from the Michaeliskloster in Hildesheim; church musician and expert in German studies Dr. Britta Martini from Berlin; Prof. Ralph Kunz from the Theological Faculty at the University of Zurich; and church musician Peter Steinvig from Denmark) began by sorting the submissions – some of them quite copious indeed – into the different categories.
The first stage of the contest called for “new lyrics for a familiar melody” or “text” alone. The latter of these constitutes a preliminary phase for the second stage, which will seek musical compositions to which the chosen words can be set. The diverse range of languages poses a particular challenge to the panel because the first stage did “not yet require any literary or professional translation, but rather just an indication of the general meaning,” Jochen Arnold explains. “There were plenty of Hungarian entries in particular with a traditional theme, but also a number of contemporary texts, some of them of a very impressive literary calibre indeed. Our aim is to focus on the sound of the language, the poetic quality and of course on the theological content as well.” The second stage of the CPCE’s Reformation Song Contest is set to take place in the second half of 2015. All entries are submitted anonymously, so the jury will not know the entrants’ names at any stage of the competition. The winning entries in all categories from each stage of the competition will be premiered in Wittenberg in March 2017 upon the occasion of the CPCE’s Council session commemorating the anniversary of the Reformation.
The number of participants in the CPCE’s other major project to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the “European Cities of the Reformation”, also keeps on growing. “The addition of the Danish town of Haderslev means the project has now spread throughout eight different countries,” General Secretary Bünker reports. “Austria’s capital Vienna represents a world-ranking city, and Lutherstadt Eisenach in Germany was always an obvious candidate.” A total of 28 cities have so far been awarded the title “City of the Reformation” – and another five are expected to join them by the start of the summer.