behind the scenes of Crossing Songs – new UK worship songwriting competition

When I first contacted Sam Hargreaves (of LST and about a lyric writing competition, I had no idea that I was tapping into something that had been floating in the Christian songwriting world for sometime. I was writing to him in my capacity as Competitions’ Manager of the Association of Christian Writers.

ACW’s original idea was for a lyric writing competition open to composers and non-composers alike. This is still reflected in the new categories, particularly category 2, which calls for lyrics to an existing tune.

The rate at which the competition has taken off, morphed and attracted more partners has been incredible! It very quickly took on a life of its own, while we all watched and wondered at the passion and enthusiasm it generated.The collaborative nature of this competition brings together a whole host of complementary qualities – writing, music, web design, social media – all with a heart for mission.


The theme of the competition has been inspired by the Crossing London initiative, which seeks to see Christian leaders across London renewed and empowered by the Holy Spirit for mission, Christians experiencing a fresh confidence to talk unashamedly about their faith and love for Jesus, churches helping to restore broken communities, and thousands of people coming to know Jesus.

UK songwriters are encouraged to write and submit songs of worship which can enrich local church services and resource evangelism and mission.

Our specially constructed website will offer blog posts from songwriters and wordsmiths, with tips on writing songs and using words. Once you’ve written your songs, you can share them by uploading them to this website for the benefit of the wider church. Visitors will be able to ‘Like’ a song, comment on it, and share the song with others via social media. ‘Liking’ a song will increase its prominence on the website. However, public ‘Liking’ will not decide the outcome of the competition.


Four of the songs will be chosen by our panel to win awards in the following four categories:

1. Best Contemporary Praise Song for a Mission Context – sing-able and understandable to someone coming into church or a Christian event for the first time

2. Best New Hymn Lyric to an Existing Hymn Tune – lyrics-only category for a new hymn on a theme relevant to the mission focus of this competition, which can be sung to a well known (out of copyright) tune

3. Best New Song/Hymn which covers a Gap Area in Theme – many areas of the Christian faith have very few congregational songs written about them – what about doubt? The environment? A response to national tragedy?

4. Under 18’s category – Best Youth Worship Song – songs by younger writers, expressing themselves in their own words and musical styles

We’ll be looking for songs that are sing-able, truthful, understandable, creative and honed into something that honours God, while encouraging the participation of listeners. Categories 1, 3 and 4 will require you to compose your own music and upload a simple MP3 recording. However, category 2 is specifically designed for the wordsmiths among us and you will only be required to submit lyrics, while stating your chosen tune.


The winner in each category will receive:

  • a brand new Taylor guitar
  • a bundle of books reflecting the art of writing
  • a year’s free membership of the Association of Christian Writers, including our quarterly magazine, Christian Writer

In addition to this, the winning songs will be professionally recorded, written up as sheet music, and shared on the song site. The winners will be announced at the London School of Theology 70th Anniversary Concert on 29th June 2013, and presented by Graham Kendrick and Steve Thompson. The winning songs will also be used in Crossing London 2013 events.

Each person will be able to upload a maximum of three songs to the website. The deadline for posting the songs is 3rd May 2013 and entry is free.


All you need to know can be found on the Crossing Songs website.  Entries can be uploaded from Monday 18th February.

The only frustration I have with this competition is that I can’t enter it!

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