I receive several emails a week for requests for me to review songs and hymns for the upcoming new LDS hymnbook and new children's songbook. I have declined all of these requests and invitations because I now have a 45% hearing loss, and working on music projects has become much more difficult than in the past. As much as I love being contacted by any and all of you, I want you to know that I cannot review your beautiful submissions. And I think you should know that I have worked through the depression of my circumstances, and that I'm happier than I've ever been in my life, and I understand that this discomfort and inconvenience is simply a hidden blessing for me to reconfigure my thinking and approach to music. That means I need to take a break from music projects, not push, and let my spiritual guide and connection work without my interference or demands. It's quite a remarkable process, and I'm intrigued by the possibilities.
Additionally, this is what I can tell you about the new hymnbook and children's songbook. There will be THOUSANDS of submissions of new songs and hymns for these books. But you must also realize that these books are being reduced in size to match the international versions, which means the new hymnbook will be reduced from 341 hymns to 200, and the children's songbook will be reduced from about 375 songs to about 110. So the odds of your submission being accepted into one of these books becomes extraordinarily slim at best. There will be a few new pieces added to each book, but not many. This is the harsh truth. All the favorites will still be included in each book not leaving a lot of room for brand new pieces. But here is the best news: what you have composed does not need to be published by the Church in order for it to be of blessing and benefit to countless people. If your compositions are not accepted by the Church, then by all means keep all your rejection letters and wallpaper a room with them so you can keep track of where and to whom you've sent your pieces, and then be persistent in finding publishers and sources for you to release your gifts to the world.
If you're not aware, holysheetmusic.com and sheetmusicplus.com accept new submissions as do other online sites. Do your research because you have options that will help you get your publishing career going.
If you'll read a couple of blog posts down from this one, you'll see a post called "Inspiration>Failure (Repeat) = Success". Please read this post and use it as your go-to in times of doubt and feelings of failure. I can tell you that I have personally received enough rejection letters from publishers all over the world that I could wallpaper at least one room completely!
I hope this post gives you hope rather discouragement. Being armed with accurate information and a few suggestions always help us make better and more informed decisions. Don't be afraid to submit your compositions for the new hymnbook and children's songbook, but don't be attached to an outcome. Look at the broader view and realize the Church is just one great opportunity for you. Keep the vision of getting your music out through several possible sources, and you will eventually find the success you hope for.
And finally, please keep composing. And again, I reiterate, don't hesitate to submit your beautiful works to the church. It's not in our control to know what will and will not be accepted, and the good news is that something far greater than ourselves has every detail and every person in mind with a beautiful plan. As we know all too well, the world needs the hope that you create through your music.
Kindest and best to all.
Update: Dr. Douglas Pew is a brilliant composer and very much understands the construction of great music, and has created several tools for composers intending to submit their materials to the new hymnbook and children's songbook. You can find these resources at www.douglaspew.com/341hymns. You can also contact him directly to request that he personally review your music at firstname.lastname@example.org.