First-prize winner Dr Andrew Pan explaining the inspiration behind his song
Luke and Abigail presenting their song, which won third prize.
Beautiful, home-grown music filled the air at the Methodist Centre on 10 Oct 2015, as the top three winners of the MCS 130 Song-Writing Competition received their awards at a prize presentation held there.
Dr Andrew Pan from Wesley Methodist Church enlisted the help of his sister, Ms Susanna Pan, to present his song ‘Seek, Love, Serve the Lord!’ which won first prize. Said Dr Pan: “The Lord had burdened my heart to share with my fellow brothers- and sisters-in-Christ about what Christian service should be anchored on, moving ahead.”
Mr Luke Yan and Ms Abigail Lee from Barker Road Methodist Church presented their song titled ‘As You Love’, which won third prize. Luke shared: “The song expresses the prayer of our hearts to speak as Christ speaks, to do as He does, to see as He sees and most importantly, love as He loves.”
The second prize winner, Ms Linda Yee Wee Seng from Foochow Methodist Church, was not able to attend, but her twin sister Ms Belinda Yee accepted the prize on her behalf. Her song was written in Chinese and titled ‘在服事中向前 迈进’. Linda and Belinda have been writing songs together for more than 30 years.
Also present were some of the 68 participants in the competition, who received certificates of participation from the Rev R. Prabhu, President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference.
Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, who presented the top three awards, thanked all who had submitted their contributions, stating his belief that “songs sung in our churches should be Singaporean songs”. He encouraged those whose songs were not selected to continue using their songs in their own contexts, for example in cell group meetings.
Col Quek Koh Eng, Chairperson of the MCS 130th Anniversary Organising Committee, thanked the sponsors of the competition, and shared his hope that “this event will rekindle a little of the spirit of Charles Wesley and the Methodist movement”, noting that Charles had “supplied the movement with memorable and richly-written songs that became the vehicle for the Wesleyan emphasis on evangelical truth and experience”.
The competition was organised by the Methodist School of Music (MSM), whose Principal Dr Yeo Teck Beng thanked God for the many participating songwriters from the three Annual Conferences, ranging from 9 to 76 years old.
The youngest participant, Tan Yi Min from HingHwa Methodist Church, composed a tune titled ‘上帝的爱’ which her mother, Ms Huang Mei Zhe, put lyrics to. Yi Min said she took part in the competition as she wanted to use her song to remember her father, who had passed away seven years ago.
Mr Leong Kwok Thye from Kampong Kapor Methodist Church (KKMC), who was the oldest participant, had concerns about composing the melody for his song ‘Touch Us O Lord’ as he had no formal training in music. Nevertheless, he took up the challenge as he believed singing hymns “warms the heart to the love of God and lifts the spirit to worship Him in His majesty”.
Mr J. Selva Raj from Tamil Methodist Church did have formal musical training, having completed his LRSM (Piano Performing) in 1968 and secured a distinction for his ABRSM Grade 8 Theory, but credits his mother’s devotion to service as his inspiration for his song, ‘Move Us’.
Students from our Methodist schools also participated, among them Erwin Loh Jia Le from St. Francis Methodist School. His interest in music had begun only a year ago, and he heard about the competition from one of his teachers. He hoped that his song, ‘Righteous and Glorious’, would “bring the generation’s hearts together as one … and glorify God”.
The top winning song ‘Seek, Love, Serve the Lord!’ will be showcased at the Celebration of Praise and Thanksgiving Service on 28 Nov 2015 at Paya Lebar Methodist Church. The MSM is considering ways to share the other submitted songs with the Methodist community – so stay tuned!
Grace Toh is Assistant Editor of Methodist Message and has been a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church for most of her life.