Hymns just became exciting, after a tournament was commenced to decide the greatest hymn of all time.
Who needs March Madness when you can do it for hymns?
Through a bracket indicative of the annual NCAA basketball tournament, the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada has definitively decided upon the greatest hymn of all time, according to Religious News Service.
The winner? "Holy, Holy, Holy!"
On the final day of the Hymn Society's annual Dallas conference in July 2019, the news was announced. An online post made by the organization told in more detail the complexities of the contest.
“Some matchups were real nail-biters, while in others one hymn blew its opposition out of the water!” reads the post made July 18 to the society’s Facebook page.
“We can safely say that the Greatest Hymn of All Time — as chosen by you — is: Holy, Holy Holy!!!”
The vote consisted of 800 people, mostly members of the Hymn Society, who took part through their website, Facebook, and in-person for the final round which took place during the conference.
"Holy, Holy, Holy!" was applauded as the winner, with experts calling it's success fitting, if not surprising.
According to Christopher Phillips, who authored The Hymnal: A Reading History, "Holy, Holy, Holy!" is a "natural champion" of hymns across the eras.
He said, "The words and music have a stately, majestic quality, something many worshippers want to associate with the traditional hymn repertoire."
The hymn seemed a sure bet to win after beating out "Amazing Grace" in the second round of the tournament, with 70 per cent of the vote received to secure its place in the next round.
Eileen Guenther is a church music professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, and says that the tournament hosted by the Hymn Society speaks to people's search for the past.
"Having a hymn of long-time history, deep roots probably makes sense for a questionnaire right now, and my guess is if that same questionnaire happened another time, that we would get an entirely different response.”
The professor believes that a significant part of the nostalgia involved in the vote comes from those who can remember singing the hymn themselves during their childhood Sunday School classes.
Written by Anglican bishop Reginald Heber, the words of the hymn refer to the holy trinity in Christian beliefs: the father, the son, and the holy spirit. It was originally written to be performed on Trinity Sunday.