Worship Songs
and how to play them

Worship Songs - on the Organ - NEVER !!!...

 

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There remains a popular myth that Worship Songs cannot be played on the organ;
They can of course, but be prepared to adapt your style somewhat... 
The organ is NOT a "traditional" instrument!
It's a MUSICAL instrument!!

If you are used to soloing on a stop on the Great, or Choir if you have one, and accompanying that with (usually) the left hand on the Swell you are most of the way there. Using a light pedal probably coupled only to the Swell you can play almost any Worship Song. But beware! If it's full of syncopation it's probably unsingable; drop it. It's for performance not worship. This work is all about getting congregations to sing, not to be an audience.

Registration: Set your registration for soloing on the Great, or Choir, with a softer accompaniment on the Swell. Use a light pedal coupled to the Swell. Solo the melody on the Great through the verse and add the left hand to the Great during any chorus or refrain if you wish. The Pedal should not be coupled to your solo.

Playover: Use the first and preferably last lines of music to arrive comfortably at the start. Your playover MUST run into the start of the song without hesitation; this is where the pause and two beats of silence really does not work.

Leading the verse: Take great care with your solo melody; this has to be exact as any faults here will show readily. Remember to separate repeated notes by adding space halving the value of the repeated notes (usually crotchets/quarter-notes all but the last one. 
(The value of the rest should be half of the main notes involved; a minim would not be halved to a crotchet and crotchet rest but to a dotted crotchet and quaver rest.)

Bridge: sometimes a bridge is included by the composer and that is helpful; if not look at the last line of the verse or chorus and see if a repeat of that will ease you flawlessly into the next verse. You may wish to play your bridge away from the Great where you have been leading the vocal line. But always test what is available and make sure that there is no risk of your singers jumping in prematurely.

There is much in The Complete Hymn/You are the Conductor to guide you and several of the current popular worship songs are included.

Here are some examples from the Volume:


As the deer pants
I use the first and last lines and have illustrated the bass notes before the start of the verse. Keep the pace perfectly steady and do NOT slow down or pause anywhere. The bridge between verses works perfectly and has been used with different congregations including one that was not familiar with my style.


Words & Music: Martin Nystrom. Copyright Restoration Music Ltd. Adm. by Sovereign Music UK, PO Box 356, Leighton Buzzard, Beds. LU7 3WP, UK.
Used by permission.


Be still for the presence of the Lord
Again first line and last line sets the scene nicely for the verse starts. You may wish to vary the section marked
pp.


Words & Music: David J Evans. Copyright 1986 Thankyou Music/Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com worldwide excl. UK & Europe,
adm. by Integritymusic.com, a division of David C Cook songs@integritymusic.com. Used by Permission.


Beauty for brokenness
Changes are often made to the way this is played, but I tend to stick to the original.


Words & Music: Graham Kendrick. copyright MakeWay Music. Used by permission.


Colours of Day
I have shown guitar chords which of course you should use too particularly on the bridge to maintain the exact tempo into each verse.


Words & Music: Sue McClellan, John Paculabo & Keith Ryecroft. Copyright 1974 Thankyou Music/Adm. by Capitol CMG Publishing worldwide
excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integritymusic.com, a division of David C Cook songs@integritymusic.com. Used by Permission.


From heaven you came helpless Babe
Two options here, the shorter one requiring the staccato notes to clarify the start point.


Words & Music: Graham Kendrick. Copyright 1983 Thankyou Music/Adm. by Capitol CMG Publishing worldwide excl. UK & Europe,
adm. by Integritymusic.com, a division of David C Cook songs@integritymusic.com. Used by Permission.


Give me joy in my heart (Sing Hosanna)
Often called for at weddings there are often problems on the off-beat pick-up at the beginning of each verse; this arrangement makes the starts unmistakeable.


God forgave my sin
Two possible play-overs here: both ending in the last phrase of the song.


Words & Music: Carol Owens. 1972 Bud John Songs/EMI CMP/Small Stone Media BV Holland
(admin by Song Solutions www.songsolutions.org). Used by permission.


Halleluia, my Father
Keep it very steady and that gentle pace will set up the starts perfectly.


Words & Music Tim Cullen. Copyright Celebration / Kingsway's Thankyou Music.


I am the bread of life (Toolan)
The text follows the Bible closely so varies from verse to verse; above all I suggest you need a little more space between verses than was originally written. The outline shows how I have played it entirely successfully for many years.


Words & Music: Suzanne Toolan. Copyright 1966, 1970, 1986, 1993, 2005 by GIA Publications, Inc., 7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638;
www.giamusic.com 800.442.1358; All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This arrangement copyright 2013 by GIA Publications, Inc., Moor Value Ltd, exclusive publisher of arrangement.


If I were a butterfly
You may be asked to play this and others like it so regardless of what you may think you will not go wrong if you join it up as below: Keep the pace moving along in the bar before that marked Join.


Words & Music: Brian Howard. 1974 Mission Hills Music (Admin by Song Solutions Copycare www.songsolutions.org).


In Christ alone
A modern classic but has a very quick off-the-beat pick-up at the beginning of the verse. Its music structure is AABA so here I have used BA to introduce it but there are other options:


Words & Music: Stuart Townend & Keith Getty. Copyright 2001 Thankyou Music/Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com worldwide excl. UK & Europe,
adm. by Integritymusic.com, a division of David C Cook songs@integritymusic.com. Used by Permission.
Note: the composers have now published a standard bridge into the second and subsequent verses.


Majesty
Use the first and last lines; a bridge is provided for any repeats:


Words & Music: Jack W. Hayford. Copyright Rocksmith Music Inc. Administered by Kevin Mayhew Ltd. Used by permission.


One more step
Popular at weddings but can still be tricky The following works well:


Words & Music: Sydney Carter. Copyright 1971 Stainer & Bell Ltd, www.stainer.co.uk. Used by permission.


One shall tell another
A strong rhythm is needed here which must accelerate at a particular point:


Words & Music: Graham Kendrick. Copyright 1981 Thankyou Music/Adm. by Capitol CMG Publishing excl. UK & Europe,
adm. by Integritymusic.com, a division of David C Cook songs@integritymusic.com. Used by Permission.


There is a Redeemer
As so often the case, this works well using the first and last phrases:


Words & Music: Melody Green. 1982 Birdwing Music/BMG Songs Inc & Ears To Hear/EMICMP/Small Stone Media BV, Holland
(Admin. by Song Solutions www.songsolutions.org). Used by permission.


You are the King of Glory
Again first and last phrases work well here:
Note: This is no longer included in the Volume but can remain here.


Words & Music: Mavis Ford. Copyright 1978 Authentic Publishing/Adm. by Integritymusic.com,
a division of David C Cook songs@integritymusic.com Used by permission.


I hope these few items give you some good clues; there is much more in The Volume to help you.

 
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The Complete Hymn - October 2023