Perkins Announces “Labor and Faith” Hymn Contest Winners

DALLAS – Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University has announced the winners of a contest for original hymns on labor and faith. The contest, which generated more than 30 entries and 10 finalists, included selection of first and second place winners along with two honorable mention awards.

First place is awarded to Heather Josselyn-Cranson, OSL, assistant professor of Music and Director of Music Ministries, Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa, for her hymn, “Loving God Means Seeking Justice” (THE SERVANT SONG). This award carries a $500 prize.

[Hymn excerpt: Loving God means seeking justice
for the workers of the earth.
Made like God, who built creation,
ach one is of sacred worth.]

Second place is awarded to Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, co-pastor, Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and a hymn writer, for “Christ, When Were You a Stranger?” (AURELIA). This award carries a $300 prize.

[Hymn excerpt: O Carpenter of Nazareth, we see you day by day
In those who work around us, who struggle for their pay.
Christ, as we show compassion, may we bring changes, too —
For as we work for justice, O Christ, we welcome you.]

Honorable mention: Two works selected for honorable mention are “Good Work Begins with Our Great God” (McKEE) by William Allen Pasch, professor emeritus of English, Clayton State University, and organist, First Presbyterian Church, Peachtree City, Georgia; and “A Good Day’s Work” (ERIE CANAL) by Douglas E. Norton, associate professor and Chair of Liberal Arts, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania.

The selection committee included two faculty members from Perkins School of Theology: C. Michael Hawn, University Distinguished Professor of Church Music and director of the Master of Sacred Music Program, and Joerg Rieger, Wendland-Cook Endowed Professor of Constructive Theology. Also serving on the selection committee was Jann Aldredge-Clanton, a Dallas pastor and hymn writer whose work includes two collections of hymns, Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians and Inclusive Hymns for Liberation, Peace, and Justice.

Plans are underway for publication of the hymns in a larger collection. “The hymns will be included with other traditional and newer songs and hymns of the labor movement that will encourage congregations to sing of justice not only during worship, but also in the streets,” Professor Hawn said.

“This contest is an extension of the ongoing theological reflection at Perkins School of Theology on issues of labor, class, and the increasing economic divide,” Professor Rieger added. “As the divide between the wealthiest one percent and the working majority grows, our sung faith must express the struggles, hopes, and agency of working people and their communities, giving expression to deep solidarity” (see Religion, Theology, and Class: Fresh Engagements after Long Silence, 2013, ed. Rieger).


Perkins School of Theology
, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Church Ministries, and Doctor of Ministry, as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.