In an earlier post I evaluated a free online source of mp3 files called smallchurchmusic.com. You can read that post here.
Here are three sources of hymn accompaniments on CD:
1. Pfeiffer House Music offers 300 traditional hymns in a collection called Hymns for Church. You can purchase it in two volumes of six CDs each, or download them as mp3 files. The CD version costs $39.96 for each of the two volumes, and the downloads cost $30.00 for each volume. All the accompaniments are simple (electronic) piano played at an easy tempo. I listened to several samples on the site, and they sound quite useful for congregational singing. Each hymn starts with the last line as an introduction, and then several verses are played.
Hymnal booklets are available for shipping to purchasers for $15.00, and the same material in downloadable pdf format is available for $5.00. You can choose music and words together, or words only in large print. Pfeiffer house also carries files of the words for projection onto a screen. Free shipping and discounts are available when both volumes of CDs are purchased together.
2. The Hymn Project offers 200 hymns on seven CDs for $99.00. The hymns are played straight from the hymnbook on piano. On my computer, the piano on these accompaniments sounded richer than those on Hymns for the Church (above). My guess is that they are played on an acoustic piano, and I prefer that to the sound of an electronic piano. The hymn list is very similar to that of the other collection. The site includes resources, such as a tutorial for using these CDs with iTunes on a computer and transferring them to a portable device such as an iPod. You can listen to sample music continuously as you browse the site. I can connect you with a lay pastor who has used these.
3. The third–and by far the most expensive–option is the CD Hymnal which offers 250 hymns on a set of ten CDs. The arrangements are orchestrated and more complex than those of options 1 and 2. You can hear a variety of instrumental sounds. They are enjoyable to listen to, but they might overwhelm a small congregation for singing. Samples play as you browse the site. The set comes with a book of words and a Powerpoint Presentation CD. You can also order these individually, and a sampler CD is available. This set includes some contemporary selections that are not available in the other two collections, such as “Great is the Lord,” “Majesty,” and “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” Disc Ten is all Advent, Christmas and Epiphany music. You can order from the publisher. The price on the site is $299.00 plus shipping/handling. Cokesbury offers this set for $239.99, but was listed as out of stock on November 28, 2011.
For most small church situations I would recommend option 1 or 2. However, if you want an orchestrated sound and can afford it, you could go with option 3.