Posts Tagged ‘hymns’

Easy Choir Arranging by Mac & Beth Lynch

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015


Here are some great ideas for easy choir arrangements! Please keep in mind…these are my personal notes taken from a recent workshop entitled, “On the Spot Arranging” by Mac & Beth Lynch.

Mac and Beth are working with a small church choir of their own and shared a lot of excellent; practical ideas for using the hymnal to sing like a choir and not like the congregation 🙂

I know of more than one church pianist who fills the role of pianist and choir leader….or assists the choir leader with choosing choir specials.  I hope these few arranging ideas will get your own creative juices going.

Refer to a hymnal for the following arranging suggestions:

“When I See the Blood” 

Have men sing the echos in unison (melody only) during the chorus for a change! Why? Gives less of a “chuncky”  or “monotone” sound.  Singing the melody for the echos gives a more shapely tone.  (singing the echos in parts as written is fine…but the unison just provides a nice; refreshing change for an easy-to-sing arrangement).


“Nearer Still Nearer”   (A lot of hymns can be utilized as SAB by deleting the bass)

Use as SAB (men on tenor)


“I Surrender All” 

Verses: SAB

Chorus: Men on melody; Ladies on alto (1st line of chorus)
SATB on 4th line (final line of song)


“Burdens Are Lifted”

Nice SAB! As written (men sing tenor line throughout)

*Extra information:

Close harmony on: line one and last phrase of line two thru four)
Open harmony on first half of lines 2 through 4
Close harmony means less than an octave between soprano and tenor
Open harmony is more than an octave between soprano and tenor


“When I See the Blood Medley”

Verses: Men on melody; Ladies on alto
Chorus: Men on melody; Ladies on alto (no echos)
*At end of chorus…go into “The Cleansing Wave”
SAB throughout (men on tenor) Could go to 4 parts on chorus.


“I Know Whom I Have Believed” Nice  SB Arrangement!

1st half of line one: men on tenor, ladies on soprano (parallel 6ths)
2nd half of line one: men on alto, ladies on soprano (parallel 3rds)
1st half of line two: men on tenor, ladies on soprano (parallel 6ths)
2nd half of line two: unison (written harmony not as feasible for two-parts)


Men on melody, Ladies on alto throughout or go to unison on last phrase of
chorus on word “Unto” then split into 4 parts on “…Him against that day.”

My thoughts:  Input these simple hymn arrangements in finale (vocal score only) to have for quickie choir arrangements…instead of having choir members mark up their hymnals and to save on choir practice time since we only practice for half an hour.

Which reminds me….I need to make copies for our choir of “Jesus Loves Me” quickie arrangement which I shared in a recent post.  We’re never too old to sing this hymn.

Free! Easter Prelude Transitions

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015


I decided to share for FREE….transitions for an Easter prelude.

A late intermediate to early advanced church pianist would benefit most from this IF they already know how to improvise hymns from the hymnal.

The following PDF includes four hymns that I printed from Timeless Truths Free Online Library.

Keep in mind that the hymns in the following Easter prelude are taken from a hymnal as is  but I’ve also included  a separate sheet which includes the transition for each song in the prelude collection. (These hymns are in the correct keys to match the transition sheet below.)

Easter Prelude Contents:

There is a Fountain (B flat Major)

When I See the Blood (C Major)

Since I Have Been Redeemed (F Major)

Glory to His Name (G Major)

Click here to download Easter-Prelude

Click here to download Transitions for Easter Prelude

Hopefully this helps the church pianist who has difficulty with adding transitions/modulations between hymns during a prelude.

Free Piano Prelude on the “Blood of Jesus”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013


Blood-of-Jesus-PreludeJust thought I’d share a free sheet with key changes to connect the following hymns for a  piano prelude on the “Blood of Jesus”.

(Our prelude lasts anywhere from five to ten minutes…depending on how soon I can make it to the piano.)  I usually play two verses per hymn.

Prelude List:

Power in the Blood (B flat major)

When I See the Blood ( C Major)

Nothing but the Blood ( G Major)

Are You Washed in the Blood? (A flat major)

The sheet contains the final phrase of each hymn; followed by the key change to connect each hymn in the list above.

Click here to download Free Piano Prelude on the “Blood of Jesus”


The Church Pianist: Scales in Hymns…Part Three

Friday, April 16th, 2010



Scales add life to hymns! 

I’ll show you one way to insert a scale in the first measure of a hymn or in some cases…adding an extra measure to make the scale fit at the beginning.

Editor notes for today’s… Scale Examples in Hymns

1. The  scale in each example  equals two counts.

2. This type of scale entry works well when the first note of the song begins on the 5th note of the present key.

     It is Well is in the key of C and the first note is “G” which is the 5th note of the C scale

3. Notice…the scale in each example begins one octave (8 notes) lower than the first note of the song.

4. When the first word of the song occurs in an incomplete measure…(as in “It is Well” and “He Hideth My Soul”)…the first word will be understood during the scale.  Reminds me of English…when “you” is understood in the sentence even though it may not be written 🙂


Try this scale idea in other hymns of similar design!


Scales in Hymns (Part Three)… Upcoming Article

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

I plan to post part three of scales in hymns by the end of this week.

Some church pianists may not understand where to insert a scale in a hymn.

Scales can be placed in several different places in a hymn.  The upcoming article will show the church pianist how to add a scale to the very first measure of a hymn!

Looking forward to sharing the examples with you!

The Church Pianist: Christmas Program Tips

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Programs, in general, require alot of practice if they are to be effective.

Just as a Pastor spends time preparing for a sermon, so must others… who share God’s message through music or speaking parts in a play.

Our ultimate goal must be to glorify God in all we say or do…decently and in order.

We must be careful to choose a program that fits the abilities of our church family.

Many of the smaller churches find themselves either simplifying a cantata to suit their abilities or…creating a simple program of their own.

Here are several tips when creating your own Christmas program:


1. Choose music in keys suitable for the adult or children’s choir

Adult Choir

Much can be said about this one point alone!

Lowering most hymns by one note puts most hymns in a more comfortable range…allowing the choir members to sing out even more.

Over half of our adult choir does not read music. Several of the choir members have a long commute to church (I happen to be one of them)… limiting us to shorter practices.

Therefore, two-part arrangements work best for us.

Children’s Choir

It also helps to lower hymns for the children’s choir. For example, see my free arrangement of “Away in a Manger”

I transposed this Christmas hymn to E flat Major…a whole step (one note name) lower than the original key. F Major is the original key in most hymnals.

I like to provide more melody support for a children’s choir. It helps them feel more secure.

2. Play filler music during transitions.

(to see filler music…refer to the free arrangement above…page two)

Filler music creates a smooth transition from one scene to another. Playing during transitions also covers excess noise and maintains the mood of the play.

The filler music should match the mood of the finishing scene or song and create a mood for the next scene or song.

Guessing the length of filler music is the challenge…right? 🙂

Whatever you do, end on the I chord of the key being used.

(See example of filler music on page 2 of Away in a Manger)

For a more interesting ending…you can end on the V 7 chord.

That’s another article in itself!

3. Sound check!

We always use the microphones during practice once we’re going through the entire program. But…be careful….just because the mics work for practice doesn’t mean they’re ready to go the night of the program.

Have someone do a sound check the night of the program; well before the service…to make sure everything is in working order.

Don’t forget to replace batteries or at least have spare batteries on hand for cordless mics.

There are other tips that I’ll have to share at another time.  I’m sure you can think of a few as well.  We all learn through experience don’t we?  I hope practice is going well for your Christmas program.


The Church Pianist: Playing for Funerals

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Funerals are not easy for any of us. Death has visited our church family twice in the last two weeks…both very unexpected.  I’m just thankful that both men knew the Lord.

I’ll just share some thoughts with you on playing for funerals.

Think about the mood of music needed for this occasion. For me…I want to play hymns that soothe the broken hearts of many people.

Varying the speed of hymns adds a nice touch. I try not to play too many slow hymns in a row… to avoid a sense of despair. In my mind, I’m trying to encourage the family that is so overwhelmed with sorrow. I want to remind them that God cares… and their loved one is in heaven (if that loved one had asked Jesus into their heart).

Here’s a list of hymns I would play before the funeral starts.  Maybe this will help those of you who have a hard time deciding what to play for a funeral.

Check out the Funeral Hymn Collection also available in our music store.

Abide With Me

Blessed Assurance

Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know

He Hideth My Soul

Does Jesus Care?

God Leads Us Along

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Simply Trusting

It is Well

Wonderful Peace

My Saviour First of All

Draw Me Nearer

Near to the Heart of God

Blessed Quietness

In the Sweet By and By

There’s Just Something About That Name

Zion’s Hill

Beulah Land

How_Beautiful_Heaven_Must_Be  page one

How Beautiful Heaven Must Be       page two

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

*Click on the red underlined hymns above for a free piano solo arrangement and blue underlined hymns for arrangement from the online church pianist music store.

Ever notice how it’s the old hymns of faith that soothe our hearts during such times of need?  I thank the Lord for such a strong heritage of music.

Playing for a funeral is just another way for the church pianist to minister to the hearts of his or her church family.



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