Posts Tagged ‘runs in hymns’

The Church Pianist: Runs in Hymns (example three)

Thursday, September 9th, 2010


*(You may want to print the “Runs in Hymns example three” page below to have on hand as you read the following information)

I enjoy using what I call “cluster runs” in hymnplaying. It’s just a cluster of notes (close together) played in a rapid broken-chord pattern. I just repeat the same four notes up the piano.  Runs can be added almost anywhere as long as they fit the flow of the hymn.  The run needs to sound like it belongs in the arrangement…not just thrown in as an afterthought.

The following example illustrates  the use of the “cluster run” in the hymn “Throw Out the Lifeline”.  The cluster run begins on the word “someone”.  Just use your right thumb to start each set of four notes.  For each group of 4 notes…I use the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th finger.

Emphasize (stress) the first note of each 4 notes to create a more shapely tone…making the run blend into the piece. 

Runs- in- Hymns- example -three

Audio of Runs in Hymns (example three)

One of my latest arrangements uses this cluster run in most of the chorus of The Light of the World is Jesus”.  The sample audio on this link contains the chorus with the cluster runs.

The Church Pianist: Adding Runs to Hymns (example #2 explanation)

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Example #2 for Adding Runs in Hymns 

Explanation of example #2 in adding runs to hymns:

(Click on image for a clearer view)

This run created a nice fill-in where normally a dotted half note occured on the word: “Thee”.  In the original version, the G chord lasted for the entire last measure of the verse for the words: “Thee….Draw me”  I added a D (7) chord on the 3rd beat of that measure for chord variety.

 Audio Sample of Example #2

*Upcoming article: Longer example with run in middle of a sentence with user friendly fingering!  I call them cluster runs 🙂


The Church Pianist: Adding Runs to Hymns (Example #1)

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

I enjoy adding runs to hymns.  A lot of pianists have asked me the following questions about runs over the years:

1. Where can I add a run?

2. What notes do I use?

3. Do I start the run on the word or after the word?

4. How do I make the run sound like it fits?

5. What fingering do I use?

6. Do I use one or two hands for this run?

Excellent questions!  I will attempt to answer these questions as I go through this series of articles on adding runs to hymns. 

Runs consist of either arpeggios (broken chords)  or scales.  Ew….got to know your theory!   (Another lesson)  🙂

1. Arpeggios look like this… (notes on treble staff below) 


*Special note: Did you notice this particular arpeggio is the second inversion of a C chord with a passing tone sprinkled in?  Hmm…I feel more theory lessons coming. That’s ok… a little  at a time, right?!

*I’ll show an example of a scale used as a run in upcoming articles.

Some pianists find “adding their own runs” to hymns or playing runs in hymn arrangements to be rather difficult.  Let me give you a helpful suggestion…isolate the run…turn it into a technical exercise and learn it well. 

When playing runs or anything else for that matter, it is extremely important to use correct fingering.  Many church pianists never had the proper training in this area…making it difficult for them to play in a smooth style. It’s ok..not your fault. I’ll provide  fingering suggestions on today’s example of a run…to help you produce a flowing style. This first example will use a right hand arpeggio in an octave format (spread).

Editor notes for today’s example:

The example contains the final phrase of Trust and Obey, written in congregational style.

The run occurs on the second syllable of the word “Je-sus”  

 Notice the ritarando marking  (rit.) starting ahead of the run… so the run won’t sound rushed as though it was just carelessly thrown in. I’ll provide an audio link for this example.

The measure containing the run has an extra beat to allow time for the run. (This isn’t always necessary)

 Click on the following…Runs in Hymns (Example #1)

Audio for Trust and Obey Run

Link: Adding runs to hymns Example Two

The Church Pianist: Adding Runs to Hymns (Coming Soon)

Friday, August 13th, 2010


How many church pianists are interested in learning how to add runs to hymns?  Do you ever wonder where the best place is to insert a run?

I consider this a fun topic!  I’ve been wanting to share ideas on adding runs to hymns for quite some time.  This will probably be a series of articles. Each article will contain at least one written example of a run in a hymn.

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