The purpose of these notes is to provide guidance for writers/composers submitting material to Jubilate. It is hoped that writers can be encouraged to be self-critical with their work prior to submission, thereby increasing the chances of the material being accepted and also reducing the likelihood of amendments being requested before texts or music can be approved.

Roger Peach, Jubilate Editorial Co-ordinator roger@jubilate.co.uk

Jubilate notes for potential writers/composers - May 2013, updated April 2017

Scope

  • The primary focus of the Jubilate site is to provide quality music and liturgical resources for churches across the world (recognising that this material may also be useful for other organisations, eg schools).
  • The main emphasis on the site is to provide singable, well-crafted congregational hymns and songs with theological substance to enhance our worship of God

Ethos

The overarching ethos of Jubilate has always been the production of mainstream Christian material which has solid content in contemporary language. This is not to say that other material - for example, more informal devotional songs, or older texts which have stood the test of time - are without value to today's church; but they are not the material which falls fully within the Jubilate style.

Jubilate's heritage is associated primarily with the evangelical wing of the church, and Jubilate texts endeavour to have theological and biblical integrity.

Jubilate aims for material which will be broadly acceptable to a wide constituency across the denominations. This means that we would not want to be associated with, for example, hymns of praise to Mary. We also reserve the right not to accept the following for the web site:

  • Texts which may be thought unduly to associate The Jubilate Group with another organisation or to imply endorsement of another organisation.
  • Texts which convey too narrow an ethos or doctrinal stance for the Jubilate web site as a whole. Examples could include a text which expresses a strong position on medical ethics, pacifism or alcohol use, where this not the only position on such a subject that Christians can hold with integrity.

How do I submit my material to Jubilate?

There are different groups to assess new hymns, songs and liturgy. If submitting new material, preferably e-mail it to the Jubilate Editorial Co-ordinator roger@jubilate.co.uk; alternatively post to

The Jubilate Group, Kitley House, St Katherines Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 4DE, UK

so that your material can be allocated to the right group.

How many pieces can I send in?

The assessment groups have a limited amount of time to look at new material, so you should select a maximum of two pieces to send in on any one occasion.

What format is needed for new material?

  • For new texts and liturgy, a Word document attachment is the simplest option; a pdf is also possible but not preferred.
  • For musical items, a minimum of written melody line and chords plus words should be sent. A full harmonisation/piano part is preferred - please note that piano versions should not be too complex, but accessible. Likewise voice parts should generally be in congregation range. Please send as a Sibelius file and pdf if possible. An mp3 recording is also very useful but not essential. It is always helpful if the music has already been tried and tested in a local church context.

When do I hear any results? Do I get feedback?

The assessment teams only meet occasionally so there is likely to be a delay of several months before they are able to look at new material. We will aim to inform people of any decisions made, but unfortunately because of the number of pieces to be assessed, we are not able to give detailed feedback, and will not normally aim to return music/CDs/texts.

What about copyright?

Please click here Legal Info for details of copyright concerns, especially paragraph 5. Jubilate will not "own" your material, so you will still be free to use it yourself in other contexts, but any versions appearing on the website will be processed through CCLI to ensure proper payment of royalties. Full details of copyright/royalty arrangements will be sent if a piece has been approved for the website.

If you have further questions about copyright please contact: Michèle Spear copyrightmanager@jubilate.co.uk

For all other enquiries about new submissions please contact:

Roger Peach, Jubilate Editorial Co-ordinator roger@jubilate.co.uk

Further notes for writers submitting lyrics to the Text Advisory Group (TAG)

  • Contemporary translations from foreign languages will be considered.
  • Contemporary-language updates from older texts, which may have been submitted with newly-written tunes, may also be considered provided there is not already a published Jubilate revision of the source text.

Content

A good hymn is clear in its focus, rather than wandering across multiple themes or subjects. It says something which is true - whether objectively true, or an aspiration with which most Christians can identify - and says it in a way which is memorable. Sometimes the best lines and phrases are those which leave the singers or readers wondering why they never saw it in that way before - something which is simultaneously fresh and obvious.

It is, of course, far from easy to write such texts; but where a text says only what has already been said many times, and says it less clearly than other hymns, it is unlikely to be accepted by TAG.

Authors are encouraged to work to produce fresh, effective, engaging texts which open up both imagination and understanding, and to avoid hackneyed reworking of over-represented themes set to familiar tunes. It will also be worthwhile for authors to look at what has already been written and is available on the Jubilate web site and other recent sources, with a view to both styles (what works adequately and what is genuinely creative?) and themes (what has been tackled, and what are the 'gaps' where more texts are needed?)

Language

We look for texts which express eternal truth in a contemporary idiom, in a way which is dignified without being either stilted or too colloquial. To give a few specific guidelines:

  • Archaic language is not usually accepted. The obvious examples are thee, thou, thy and thine, but other vocabulary which has largely fallen out of current use will often be questioned. Archaic phraseology should also be avoided.
  • Specifically Christian terminology needs to be used with care: it is too easy to include either individual words (redeemed) or phrases (washed in the blood) which have no contemporary resonance and are unlikely to be understood by non-Christian visitors or new believers.
  • Militaristic language is increasingly being seen as unacceptable within the church, and its use should be curtailed accordingly.
  • On the question of inclusive language, the best approach is probably to mix Biblical usage with pastoral sensitivity. This would mean avoiding unnecessarily gender-specific language for human beings (including both nouns - man, mankind - and pronouns - he, his) while not shying away from Biblical and traditional usage for the Godhead - Father, Son. Most Jubilate users are unlikely to be so radical as to want to address God as Mother or Parent.
  • Where a text quotes God - most usually by attributing words to Jesus Christ - our strong preference is to use only phrases which are Biblical rather than putting words into the Lord's mouth. It may be worth asking, before submitting a text, "Did he really say that?"
  • The use of apostrophes is not unacceptable per se, but texts which carry substantial numbers of contractions (he's, don't, I'm) probably lean more towards the song style than the hymn genre.

Style

Contemporary hymns of the type associated with The Jubilate Group stand within a tradition which values structure and rhyme, provided these are done well.

  • Writers are encouraged to avoid inversions of word order which are driven by a particular rhyme; it may be better to use fewer rhymes to ensure that the text can be understood easily and flows naturally.
  • Writers are also encouraged to use true rhymes rather than assonant or half-rhymes where possible. Half-rhymes can be effective if used consistently through a text (for example, on the odd lines, with exact rhymes on the even lines); but where, for example, a single half-rhyme occurs in the final stanza, it can look as though the writer was rushing to complete the text.
  • Texts which have inconsistent rhyme schemes or stress patterns between verses are also less likely to be acceptable than those which are more rigorous in these areas.
  • Bear in mind that the "house style" for Jubilate publications (like various other contemporary publishers) uses minimal capitalisation, and certainly not for every line of a text. Writers may find their personal preferences overruled by such styles. It is wise to ensure that a text does not rely on a particular style of capitalisation for its clarity - for example, where it is only clear that God is being addressed by printing You rather than you.
  • Other questions of layout - for example, indentations or the use of italics for refrains - are not strictly part of the content of a particular text and are beyond the remit of TAG.

Tunes

A hymn is not merely a set of words: it is words and music together, designed to be sung by a congregation. In general TAG are concerned primarily with words but we are also keen to present whole hymns ready for use, and it is therefore helpful to have in mind the author's thoughts on possible tunes for a text. This may include:

  • Established, published tunes (which may or may not still be in copyright). Bear in mind that if a "secular" tune is used there may be copyright issues to overcome before this can be used with a hymn text; and some hymn tunes are restricted by their copyright holders to particular texts.
  • Unpublished tunes by Jubilate composers. In this case, the tune would be reviewed by the Hymns Advisory Group (HAG) and only if it is approved there could the pairing of text and tune appear on the web site.
  • Other unpublished tunes. For this category, what could appear on the Jubilate site would be a reference to the tune and some information about where it could be found or obtained. If the tune is out of copyright then it may be possible for that to appear on the Jubilate site, maybe with an arrangement by a Jubilate composer.

The major priority for the Jubilate website is to provide whole hymns ready for use, each preferably with an mp3 recording. With this in mind, TAG may well recommend that one or more new tunes be commissioned from Jubilate composers for words accepted for the web site.

Items to check

The following are worth consideration before considering a text "complete":

  • Are the verses in the best order, presenting a steady progression through the text from start to end?
  • Are the first and last lines of each stanza, and especially of the hymn as a whole, clear and strong?
  • Does the text lift heart and mind heavenward and involve the singer in engaging with God, leading to a deeper understanding of the faith and a deeper commitment to discipleship?
  • Can the text be understood when read once at singing speed, or is it likely to cause confusion, whether from the content, from unnatural phrases or from stresses which are not obvious?
  • Does the text have conviction, consistency and integrity, or does it lapse into sermonising, morbidity, parody or hollow triumphalism?
  • Is there any "padding", or does every stanza, line and word carry its full weight and make a contribution to the whole?

Finally ...

Careful attention to the points raised in these notes will not necessarily make for a good hymn; but it should help to weed out some of the things which make for a bad one! TAG look very carefully at all submissions from Jubilate writers, aiming wherever possible to identify texts which will be durable and valuable to the church. This may mean making some suggestions for amendments, but this is always done with the aim of making good texts better. Where we feel changes are necessary we always work with authors to ensure there is agreement ... and the text remains the author's work and will never be presented as being by "Fred Jones and TAG Members"!

Martin Leckebusch, Jubilate TAG Chairman - October 2010, updated February 2013

Appendix - Assessment Teams

  • Text Advisory Group (TAG) - assesses new hymn texts, plus any texts specifically passed on by SAT or HAG
  • Music Assessment Panel (MAP) - assesses new contemporary songs (as a rough guide, any music where it is appropriate to add guitar chords), new complete-hymns and choral items
  • Liturgical items are assessed by Jubilate members with experience in this area