“The strength and all the gifts that the Eucharist gives allow us to develop that relationship with him, become closer to him, to dwell more and more, even in this world, in the truth of the Word Made Flesh.”
Pluth, who has a licentiate in sacred theology (S.T.L.), said she hopes that her hymn’s deep theological meaning will help it to stand the test of time.
“I was honored by this distinction, very much so, and also very encouraged because this is a heavily doctrinal hymn … I have a theology background, so maybe this is biased, but I feel that the more doctrine, the more Scripture, the more of these kind of basic but deep truths of our religion can be worked into hymns, the better,” Pluth said.
“And I think when we look back and see which hymns have had staying power over the centuries, they have this rich doctrine.”
Mahoney, an alumna of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, said she has found it to be
“a great gift to minister as a Catholic with the gift of music, because I just love the liturgy, I love the Eucharist, and to be able to serve it in that way is such a privilege.”
She said her song is based on the passage from Mark’s Gospel in which a man tells Jesus: “I do believe. Please help my unbelief.” Mahoney said she has wanted for years to use that passage in a Communion setting because, she says, receiving the Body of Christ can help people recover their belief in him.
Mahoney said she had been working on the song since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and used the extra time to flesh the song out. The idea, later, of entering it into the January contest gave her a deadline — and motivation.
“I wanted it to be strong, something you would sing as you’re processing to Communion. All those kinds of ideas, very reverent and yet meaningful for the text. So it was kind of a combination of many years of trying different tunes and melodies and harmonies that would be a strong setting for that text,” she said.
Mahoney’s advice for budding composers of sacred music?
“Go for it. Listen to your heart and listen to God. But you also have to work very hard, I think, to make a really beautiful product. It’s not enough just to use the first thing that comes to your mind. I think we need to keep raising the bar. We need to all do the very best we can for the liturgy, particularly,” Mahoney said.
Father Dustin Dought, associate director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship, served as the nonvoting chairperson of the committee of judges. Entries were evaluated, the organizers say, on such criteria as poetry, musicality, creativity, theological and doctrinal soundness, beauty, appropriateness for liturgical use, and expression of the mission of the National Eucharistic Revival.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
“The quantity and quality of entries for the Eucharistic Revival Musical Competition showed what great devotion there is to the sacrament of the Eucharist among the faithful of the dioceses of the United States,” Dought said.
“These two songs will be used in liturgical and devotional prayer, and my hope is that they enkindle that living relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, which will renew the Church in the United States.”