Congregational playing if done properly, takes ALOT of energy!
Ever feel totally wiped out after congregational playing? If so, you’re doing something right! 🙂
I’ve heard a couple of approaches to teaching exciting congregational playing…first is to play VERY loud the whole time with no room for emotion vs. play with a big sound but leave room for emotion. Shelly Hamilton refers to this second method as “kneading” into the keys for music quality…you can “dig” into the keys for a big sound-just not banging…to allow room for emotion. Shelly mentions playing with “back” weight. After trying the above methods…I prefer the latter way….much more enjoyable; adds warmth…more meaningful way of playing and the congregation responds well to this method!
The church pianist is to provide support to the congregational singing. Play with gusto! Give solid sounding introductions. Make it sound like you know what you’re doing! 🙂 *It may help to bracket off the section(s) you play for intros in your hymnal or other songbook… so you won’t get lost.
Energetic playing is contagious! Your congregation will catch on real quick!
My heart is full…had to share an experience that just happened today…
Just returned from playing for a funeral. It was the funeral of a former piano student’s grandmother.
The Lord’s presence was unmistakable! I played about a half hour prelude and it was as though God was moving my hands…you could have heard a pin drop….everyone else must have sensed God’s presence too. Nothing to do with me.
God’s presence was felt upon meeting Nathan’s warm and caring grandfather sitting by his wife’s casket prior to the service. You could tell he walked with God and God’s peace surrounded him and his sweet family. I would love to have known his wife. How he will miss her…married for 67 years. What a testimony!
I taught Nathan years ago when he was first learning piano. He took so well to the old hymns… which he enjoyed playing for his now deceased grandmother. He’s now in his second year of college. At the beginning of the service, Nathan came up and played one of my arrangements I taught him many years ago….”It is Well”. What I didn’t know until the end of the service..was that he played this very arrangement for his grandmother as she entered heaven’s gates.
Sorry…getting a little emotional as tears run down my face while typing.
All I can say is, “God…thank you for allowing me to have a small part in your training of young people for your service and for using my music as a balm for dying saints.” God is good!
I discreetly videoed Nathan while he played “It is Well”. You can tell he was giving all he could for his grandmother. But now…she was hearing Nathan from heaven above 🙂
How many church pianists have ever heard of the hymn “Ready”? One of my readers recently requested an offertory arrangement for this hymn.(actually just yesterday) Thanks Nancy!
I googled the hymn because I didn’t recognize the title right away. Once I saw the music score, I realized it was one I grew up with… but rarely heard.
One main idea comes to my mind after skimming through the words of each verse…Total Commitment to Christ No Matter What. How convicting when I insert the words “Am I…” before each phrase.
After reading the words to each verse I thought, “This is a hymn worth reviving!” The writer of this hymn, Charles Tillman, was the son of an evangelist. He painted houses and was also a traveling salesman for a music company out of Raleigha, NC in the late 1800’s. Charles began his career as a singing evangelist in 1887. He died at the age of 82 in 1943.
Lyrics to “Ready”
Ready to suffer grief or pain,
Ready to stand the test,
Ready to stay at home and send
Others if He sees best.
Ready to go, ready to bear,
Ready to watch and pray,
Ready to stand aside and give,
Till He shall clear the way.
Ready to speak, ready to think,
Ready with heart and mind,
Ready to stand where He sees fit,
Ready His will to find.
Ready to speak, ready to warn,
Ready o’er souls to yearn,
Ready in life or ready in death,
Ready for His return.
Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill,
Ready for service, lowly or great,
Ready to do His will.
I hope other church pianists can use this old but wonderful hymn to enrich their music ministry at church.
Sorry for the delay in publishing this free piano congregational arrangement of Saved, Saved, Saved!
The words of this hymn carry the message of joy a Christian has in having Christ as their personal Saviour 🙂
For that reason, the music should sound happy and upbeat to support the text.
Generally…the faster or more wordy a hymn goes, the lighter the note texture (in my opinion). 😉
Why a lighter texture? Playing frequent big; heavy right hand chords (chords with 3 to 4 notes) throughout… wouldn’t allow for easy mobility; thus causing the pianist to “drag” the tempo.
The occasional full chords can still occur with a fast tempo…especially on long held words such as in measure #8 (see dotted half note for right hand). Full chords also sound nice and feel comfortable toward the end as tempo gets slower (see measures #19 & 20…right hand).
I also use occasional rests to provide more ease of hand movement as in measure #8…allows right hand time to ease into the fill-in. Same idea applies in measures 10, 15 and 17-19.
The rests just seem to create a more balanced “feel” when entering busy fill-in passages.
You’ll notice I use a lot of eighth notes in groups of 3’s to drive the majority of the first verse and chorus. I would change fill-in rhythms on the remaining verses to give my hands a break! 😉 Well…actually it also sounds nicer to use a variety of fill-ins for a fresher sound.
I’m thinking of a couple interpretation tips to share as well.
Hmmm….sounds like another post in the works for Saved, Saved, Saved!
Click on song title below to download your FREE copy of Saved! Saved! Saved! (one verse and chorus)
Just curious…what seems to be one of the most awkward hymns for you as a church pianist to play for congregational singing?
As soon as I collect a sizable list (at least 10)…I will number them and draw a number out of the hat and write a free congregational piano arrangement of that particular hymn. *Please: One hymn suggestion per person
Special note: Please only choose hymns that are in the public domain.
Here’s how a public domain hymn may appear
Public domain hymn
*Sometimes a public domain hymn will have no credits at the bottom like this:
One of my readers requested fill-in ideas for the song But Until Then. I already shared fill-in ideas for the verse in a previous article HERE.
The chorus of But Until Then may be a challenge for church pianists who don’t feel comfortable improvising. The fill-in notes are what give the music a forward motion; adding life to the hymn…IF the fill-in notes are rhythmically correct 😉
Since this particular hymn is under copyright…I’m limited on what I can share according to the US Copyright Office.
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
The amount being considered “fair use” is up for debate but I try to stay on the conservative side of usage which explains why I presented a “cut and paste” layout of only the long held words.