Guest Post: Hymnary.org
Date: May 2, 2014
ChoralNet member CJ Redden-Liotta proposed and generously provided this article on one of his favorite research tools. Do you have a topic that you'd like to offer as a ChoralTech guest post? Contact Jeff Tillinghast if you're interested in sharing a resource with the ChoralNet community as a guest Tech post!
As a church music minister, I always strive to ensure that the hymns and songs that I program each Sunday are appropriate and topical. Being at a mostly liturgical church, we generally follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), however, being a mostly liturgical church, our Pastor often departs from the lectionary to illustrate his sermon point. This often presents a challenge in hymn selection. Our congregation also enjoys using a great variety of hymnody, texts, and other songs during worship services, which presents unique challenges as well.
In order to provide variety, I would often find myself surrounded by several hymnals of various denominations and styles and armed with even more worship planning guides and worship planning websites of various denominations and sources. This process was simplified when I found the Hymnary.org website. Hymnary.org is a joint project between the Hymn Society of the US and Canada, the Christian Classics Etherial Library, Calvin College, and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. In this partnership, the Hymn Society moved their ongoing project to create a comprehensive index of Hymnody in the United states to a common, searchable website.
What makes Hymnary.org such a powerful tool for worship planning and preparation is the myriad of resources available on this one, single site. From the homepage, several options are immediately available. On the left side, you can do a quick search for the text name, tune name, composer/author, hymnal and number (what is Chalice Hymnal, 16?), topics by keyword, and scripture. You can add additional fields and search by however many fields you need. Adding search fields allows you to search by meter, key, incipit, year of publication, and many others helpful for planning. The main search field also does a keyword search across the entire site, including hymn texts.
You can also easily browse Hymnary.org by using the variety of tools available. Hymnary editors have chosen lectionary based hymns for each week and special day in the RCL. On the lectionary page, you can also easily click on each reading to find additional hymns with that scripture reference. This tool has proved incredibly valuable to me over the years that I have used this resource because it offers additional references to those that are traditionally listed in hymnal indices.
Additionally, you can browse by scripture reference, by element of worship (need a new offering hymn?), by denominational affiliation, or by browsing a series of topic keywords. By logging into the site and creating a profile, you can add hymnals to your own personal collection. As you search and browse the various areas of the site, the website will place a marker next to the hymns that are already in the hymnal(s) that you use in your everyday worship planning.
Finally, Hymnary.org contains hundreds of hymns engraved in a variety of formats for both public domain hymns as well as hymns made available by partner publishers. All of the public domain hymns are available to use for hymn reprints in bulletins, and those provided by partner publishers are available for use with the appropriate reprint licenses (CCLI, OneLicence, LicenSing, etc…). This has proved to me an incredible resource as a church that prints hymns in the bulletin. It also allows me to choose hymns and texts that are not available in our hymnal. I am able to easily provide the hymn to the choir, organist, and congregation. Moving forward, Hymnary.org is working to provide even more resources, including scores and parts for flexible instrumentations (some of which are currently available for the new Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God) and other immediately purchasable resources.
Hymnary.org has replaced most of the other online resources that I used to consult each week in my worship planning process. I hope that this resource will prove valuable to support your worship planning.
CJ Redden-Liotta is the Music Minister at Vienna Baptist Church in Vienna, VA. He is also a DMA student at George Mason University in Choral Conducting, where he serves as assistant conductor to the choral ensembles.