Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

From the New Living Translation–Colossians 3:16

(Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation)

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

If you study Western music, you cannot avoid sacred music.  The church was the source of scholarship through many ages, and much of the extant music from the earliest times was preserved because it was a part of the church.  As a result, you don’t study Western music without the influence of the Christian faith, including Gregorian Chant, Bach, and nearly any Western composer before 1875.

In my scanning activities, I’m currently scanning a hymnal.  Hymnals are wonderful collections of (many) lasting songs of faith (depending on the editor and how many of their own “timeless” works they added).  In the churches I attend, these songs are sung less (and less) frequently over time, as the top “hits” from the local Christian (rock) radio station are played, instead.  This is nothing new–but some of my sweetest memories are from our college choir tours (all at churches) where we would gather on our own accord and sing hymns during “down” time after dinner. I miss those hymns! That said, hymns also offer a wonderful chance to sight-read and perform harmonic analysis.  So as I scan a hymnal this evening, I started thinking about other hymnal resources.

I believe that Brandt Schneider (Things to Come Blog) recommended the app Praise Hymns to me (for both iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad), which shows the music for several hymns and has the ability to play the accompaniment for the song.  The app is free.  In the (secular) classroom, this app could be used for sight reading, or to print for harmonic analysis.

I also stumbled upon a few other websites dealing with hymns and other items that may be of interest:

The Open Hymnal Project (PDF downloads available)

Sancta Missa – The 1961 Liber Usualis (A PDF download available–My collegiate music history teacher used many of these songs in our instruction)




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