Announcing the Sovereign Grace Songwriting Contest Winner

What? You say you didn’t even know we had a songwriting contest?

No surprise. It was pretty low key. At the start of 2009, I sent out an email to the Sovereign Grace worship leaders announcing a contest for 14-22 year old songwriters. The rules were pretty simple. Submit up to two original congregational songs by mid-February. The winner would receive an ESV Study Bible and a $50 iTunes certificate.

Among the promising entries were At the Cross by J’Nelle Smith and You Will Sustain by Philip VanderWeide.

But the winner was 22 year old Peter (PJ) Kemerer of Corning, NY who sent in Gift of Grace. It’s an uptempo 6/8 song that focuses on the miracle of grace. Here are the lyrics:

VS1
God of endless design, sculpting worlds and stars
Weaving threads of Your likeness in every heart
Can it be, heaven’s King came for one like me?
I will worship You who created me

What a glorious gift of grace
You have freely given hopeless sinners life
I will gladly give You all my praise
King of glory, Jesus Christ

VS2
God who never began, born a man to die
Heaven’s Lamb sent to man as a sacrifice
Can it be, such a Savior has bought my peace?
I will live for You, God who died for me

BRIDGE
You deserve all my praise, You deserve all my love
You deserve all my life, I give You all of me
You deserve all my praise, You deserve all my love
You deserve all my life, I give You all of me
Words and Music by Peter Kemerer. Copyright 2009 Sovereign Grace Praise.

I appreciated a number of things about the song.

  • I wanted to sing as soon as I heard it.
  • The lyrics stay focused on one theme and don’t wander aimlessly or try to cover multiple topics.
  • The song contains creative words and phrases that you don’t normally hear in a song. Like endless design, sculpting, and weaving.
  • The use of creativity doesn’t obscure theological faithfulness. So to communicate that we’re made in God’s image he writes, “Weaving threads of Your likeness in every heart.” Very nice.
  • The song contains both objective truths and subjective responses.
  • The melody is strong and memorable.
  • Vs 2 does a great job highlighting various aspects and implications of the gospel.
  • The production on the song was creative and varied. And done on an iMac.

You can download the song here, and download the guitar chart here.

20 Responses to Announcing the Sovereign Grace Songwriting Contest Winner

  1. Jason April 28, 2009 at 6:16 PM #

    Thanks for the opportunity to submit something. It was a lot of fun and a great learning experience!

  2. Tai Sophia April 28, 2009 at 10:46 PM #

    Yeah!! That’s OUR P.J.!
    :-D

  3. Derrick Jeror April 28, 2009 at 11:07 PM #

    Congrats PJ! Great job on the song. We’re thankful to have you leading us in worship at our church. I’m also thankful for your friendship. I hope this encourages you to take up writing again more seriously.

    Bob, is there any way we could get the chance to hear some of the runner-up songs? I would love to hear what other young up and coming song writers are making in Sovereign Grace.

    • Bob Kauflin April 29, 2009 at 8:13 AM #

      Derrick, thanks for asking. Great job on the mix of the song. I’ll see what I can do about posting some of the other songs.

  4. Derrick Jeror April 29, 2009 at 10:23 AM #

    Speaking of the mix of the song… the iMac speakers are really tiny and hardly put out any bass. Just plugged in my laptop to a speaker set that had a subwoofer. I kind of over did it with the bass guitar!!!

  5. David Sadd April 29, 2009 at 10:37 AM #

    Wonderful song. I was singing along almost immediately. Well crafted lyrics. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Mark Lioret April 29, 2009 at 11:55 AM #

    very nice – i also appreciate the creative ways of speaking truths about our Lord! If it’s ok, i’d love to teach this to our team – i’m always on the lookout for a GOOD song that will work with an acappella group, and this one definitely will!

    • Bob Kauflin April 29, 2009 at 12:07 PM #

      Mark, I’d be honored if you turned this into an a cappella song. I think it would work great in that context, and if I wasn’t doing so much other stuff, I’d consider arranging it myself…

  7. P.J. Kemerer April 29, 2009 at 12:21 PM #

    Mark,

    I’d also be honored if you wanted to use this on your team. If you’d like, I can whip up a 3- or 4-part a cappella arrangement pretty quickly. I moonlight (or daylight, I guess) as a HS choral director. If you’d rather do it on your own, though, go for it!

    • Bob Kauflin April 29, 2009 at 12:39 PM #

      PJ and Mark, I’m an idiot. I thought Mark was commenting on another post. Maybe I should review my comments more carefully…

      PJ, you should definitely do an arrangement!

  8. emily April 29, 2009 at 12:40 PM #

    thanks bob and congrats PJ! this inspires me to start writing again. great song!

  9. David April 29, 2009 at 3:04 PM #

    Great analysis of the song Bob.

    Great job PJ. I appreciate your humility… Funny, how long have we done this song in church… and I didn’t even know it was yours until last week.

    Looking forward to more bro…

  10. Melissa April 29, 2009 at 10:14 PM #

    I personally thought Philip VanderWeide’s song was very promising… :) Does going to the same church as him qualify me as biased?

  11. Shawn April 30, 2009 at 4:48 PM #

    PJ, great lyrics, melody, and arrangement.

    Bob, one of the many things I have gleaned from your blog, book, and WorshipGod ’08 is the value of original worship music from people in the local church.

    Thanks so much for being true to God’s calling. You are definitely making an impact on the kingdom.

    We are working toward writing songs for a message series to be preached in September on abiding in Christ. Once we get things moving, I would love for you to listen to some of it and critique it.

    • Bob Kauflin April 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM #

      Shawn, thanks for your kind words. That’s great that you’re encouraging your writers! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to promise that I’ll be able to give you any feedback on your songs in the near future. Working on two CDs at the moment, and having a great time…

  12. Jesse Marks May 7, 2009 at 10:52 PM #

    Peter, This song is truly glorifying to Christ. I believe God will use this to touch many lives. Would you mind if I used it in my youthgroup. I go to a Baptist church, but I have introduced many Sovereign Grace songs to them such as Glories of Calvary.

    Mr.Kauflin,
    Thank you so much for all you are and all you have done for Christ. You are an example to me and you truly glorify Christ!

    God bless,
    Jesse M.

  13. Mark Lioret May 13, 2009 at 1:32 PM #

    PJ and Bob… sorry it’s been a while since you responded to my post – got real busy with work and forgot to check this.. anyway, thanks for the offer of the arrangement… in our 8 person team, me and another guy are the only ones who can read music.. usually, i present a song to the team.. we all learn the melody well… and then come up with the harmonies.. we’ve sung together for about 5 years now, so we’ve all learned to hear the harmonies from the melody.. does that make sense?

  14. P.J. Kemerer May 13, 2009 at 4:22 PM #

    Absolutely, Mark… although reading music is an excellent tool, there’s a lot to be said for aural skills! I hope the song serves your church…

  15. Chris Ashton May 18, 2009 at 10:09 AM #

    What’s the deal for licencing with this song?

    Can a church with a CCLI licence put the words on the screen and sing it in services?

    • Bob Kauflin May 18, 2009 at 11:20 AM #

      Chris, yep. Go for it. Thanks for asking.

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