On March 1, 2006, the 2008 IEC liturgical service launched the idea of holding a contest to select the theme song. The objectives were as follows:

The music committee focused the competition on the musical part of the work. All composers therefore had to be given the same text. To this end, area writers were invited in April 2006 to submit a text inspired by the Holy Scriptures, the Congress theme, and the principal theological document The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World. Robert Lebel’s text, entitled “God's Gift” was chosen for its literary quality, musicality, simplicity, accessibility, and expression of the mystery of the Eucharist.

The musical competition was then launched worldwide, resulting in an impressive display of creativity: 237 people from eleven different countries and eight Canadian provinces entered the competition. We provided them with clear guidelines for their composition. We then received 96 musical compositions with organ accompaniment and harmonies for a mixed choir of four voices. The works were submitted anonymously to a jury made up of a diverse and complementary mix of talented artists.

The jury unanimously selected the work by Mario Jacques and Jean Morissette. The fluid melody line was situated in the perfect vocal range and was easy to memorize without being monotonous. The upbeat, natural, and varied melody was well suited for the Congress’ three official languages. The composers skillfully integrated assembly participation and colorful harmonies, made it accessible to all parish choirs, and embellished it with a violin counter-melody and various organ interludes.

Next, the work was translated into English and Spanish, a CD of the hymn was recorded so the Christian communities could learn it, and it was published along with a brochure and sheet music. The official launch of the theme took place on May 16, 2007, in the presence of over 150 international delegates. The $2,000 prize was awarded to the three winners. The proud writers watched and listened as Ensemble de musique sacrée de Québec, accompanied by organist Marc D’Anjou and violist Chantal Masson-Bourque, performed the multilingual version of the beautiful theme song “God's Gift.”

The theme song will reach its peak at the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress on June 15, 2008, as thousands of attendees lift their voices in faith and joy: “O God source of life, we thank you for your gift: this bread and wine for the life of the world.”

© 2008 International Eucharistic Congress