Posts Tagged ‘small church music’

Julia and Chester singing

Photograph by Lindsey Williams

Hymns Without Words is an online source of free, high quality, easily downloadable mp3 recordings for congregational singing.   All the hymns are arranged and performed by Richard Irwin, who is  Director of Music for the Parish of Holy Cross Chiseldon, UK.  There are a number of different instrumental combinations.  Almost all the hymns are in the public domain and lyrics are included on the hymn’s page.   If you have the proper copyright licenses, you can access others that are under copyright for use in worship services only by emailing Mr. Irwin.

Here is “Holy, Holy, Holy” performed on the organ, and “Morning Is Broken” performed on the piano.

He also has produced two CDs, “Hymns Without Words,” volumes 1 and 2,  that include some copyrighted tunes, such as “Bind Us Together.”  You can access them on amazon.com by clicking here.  You will see that he has also produced a collection of carols.

I highly recommend this site!

Here is a roundup of my posts about the many free and low-cost music resources available:

Hymnpod.com: downloadable piano accompaniments.

Smallchurchmusic.com: downloadable mp3 files.

Worship Service Resources: a CD collection.  Downloadable mp3 files also available.

See also this review of three CD collections: Hymns for Church, the Hymn Project, and the CD Hymnal.


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'Ringing in 2nd Sunday of Advent with some Hyfrydol' photo (c) 2009, Paulo Ordoveza - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I am always on the lookout for good music resources for congregations who don’t have any instrumentalists.  Recently as I was searching for recorded music to use at a funeral, I discovered yet another source of good quality piano accompaniments for congregational singing.  It’s a series of collections available in CD or downloadable mp3 files.  The series is called Worship Service Resources. Lamon Records, Nashville, TN,  is the publisher.  The CDs are available from the publisher, from Amazon.com and other outlets, and you can download the mp3s from Amazon or iTunes.  The CDs run about $16-$20 new, and I noticed that there are some used copies available on Amazon.  Mp3 albums run $8.99 to $9.99, with individual tracks costing .99 each.  There are ten collections, and each collection contains 25 hymns.

I surveyed the entire hymn list on iTunes.  Included are many traditional hymns, such as “A Mighty Fortress,” more recent hymns, such as “How Great Thou Art,” and gospel hymns, such as “He Touched Me.”  There is a Christmas collection that includes all the classics like “Silent Night,” along with “O Holy Night” and “The Birthday of a King” that might appeal to soloists and choirs.

Here is the entire playlist from the collection “Majestic Hymns:”

1. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
2. A Mighty Fortress is Our God
3. And Can It Be
4. Come Christians Join to Sing
5. Come Thou Almighty King
6. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
7. Doxology
8. God of Our Fathers
9. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
10. Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
11. Holy, Holy, Holy
12. How Firm a Foundation
13. How Great Thou Art
14. Immortal, Invisible
15. I Sing the Mighty Power of God
16. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
17. Like a River Glorious
18. Love Divine All Loves Excelling
19. My Faith Has Found a Resting Place
20. O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing
21. O God, Our Help in Ages Past
22. O Worship the King
23. Praise To the Lord the Almighty
24. The Church’s One Foundation
25. This Is My Father’s World

View my post reviewing other available CDs here.

For other links to sources of instrumental music for hymn singing, see below:


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My keyboard

My keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A lay pastor colleague of mine called my attention to hymnpod.com, a free source of traditional hymn accompaniments online.  Christopher Tan, a pianist from Singapore, has recorded  many, many tunes using an electronic piano, and they are exceptionally clear and singable, and they are lovely to listen to.

The tunes are all in the public domain.  Here is a sample, the Swedish tune to which we sing the hymn “How Great Thou Art.”

You can download these tunes to your computer by right clicking on the play button and then select “save audio as.”   On iTunes you can download a number of them for free and also subscribe to podcasts of more tunes as Christopher Tan makes them available.   Then you can make audio CDs to use in worship, or you can sync them to your iPod and play them back through a compatible player.

For more music resources, see this post reviewing CDs for worship use, and this post about smallchurchmusic.com, a site that offers free downloads of hymn accompaniments in multiple formats.  You can also click the resources tab above and scroll down to the music section for more help.

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Compact Disc

Image via Wikipedia

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.


For more small church music resources, see this post on hymnpod.com and this one on smallchurchmusic.com.

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PianoMusic is often a struggle for smaller congregations.  What can you do if there’s no one who can play an instrument?  Here is one solution: smallchurchmusic.com.  This is a huge website with thousands of downloadable mp3 files.  Music that is in the public domain is free.  Copyrighted music requires a very small copyright fee.  (Note that reproducing words and music for your bulletin or screen requires a separate copyright license such as CCLI.)

Here’s how it works: you download the music you need to your computer.  Then you can put it on a device such as an iPod and play the music through speakers.  If you are a tiny church that meets in someone’s home, for example, you can simply dock the iPod in a home stereo system.

Just about every hymn you might need for traditional worship is available on this site, along with more contemporary selections such as “Shout to the Lord,” “Because He Lives,”Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” and “Here I Am, Lord.”  Pdf files of the music and lyrics are available for download, and in some cases, you can download a file to use to project the lyrics up on a screen, complete with beautiful background.  Also available are mp3 files of classic pieces you can use for weddings, such as Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary.”

Most are available in multiple formats: pipe organ, piano, small band, MIDI.  Some also are available with soloists or choir.  When you click on a hymn title, all the available formats come up, and you can click to hear short samples of each.  (Click on the titles above for samples.)  You can also see how many verses of the hymn are played in the file.  I was impressed with the sound of the instrumental accompaniments.  The tempo is steady and meant to help prevent dragging.  Fear not, though, if the tempo isn’t right for you, or you need a different number of verses.  Software is available that you can use to edit your mp3 files.  There is a page on the site with information about this.  (I also know someone who knows how to do this.  Contact me for more information.  See also WavePad Audio Editing Software.)

Most of the soloists did not impress me, but the choir selections sounded good.  This choir resembles the choirs I remember hearing on the radio when I was a child.  Your congregation could easily sing along.  The choir selections come from an organization called the Center for Church Music, which has its own website.  (Click here to listen to “Come, Christians, Join to Sing.”)  Besides listening to the hymns that the CFCM has produced, you can learn more about each hymn, view pdf files of the music and lyrics and read suggestions for a devotional based on the hymn.

Smallchurchmusic.com is a labor of love and gift to small churches around the world from Clyde McLennan, a musician and Baptist pastor from Perth, Australia.  He served small churches as both pastor and musician, and he supported himself by working as a computer software specialist.  He is now retired, but he continues to update his site.  Thank you so very much, Mr. McLennan!


For more small church music resources, see this post on hymnpod.com and this one on several CD resources.

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