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I love singing (bass), but I'm not a musician so there is much about music that I don't understand, but which is critical to those who are actually musicians. Our congregation has a praise song book which I maintain, but I'm having a real issue with trying to add new songs since the written music of so many goes on for 4 or 6 pages. I firmly believe that music in a songbook for congregational singing should not exceed 2 pages and that music for these songs could be done this way if the will to do so existed on the part of the musicians and worship leadership, but since I'm not a musician it's proving impossible for me to do this on my own. One idea that I have is for a keyboard, connected to a computer, that would create musical notation from what is played. This would allow us have a musician play the song the way we sing it and create music for it that the congregation could actually sing from. Does anyone know of any resources for doing this?


Yes, you would need a music program like Finale or Sibelius and buy a keyboard w/ a midi interface so you can hook it up to your computer. There should be a computer techie around who can help you hook things up and download the right programs. There may be some free music softward online as well.

I do need to add a friendly reminder regarding copyrights. Arrangements of published music are not allowed to be made without the permission of the copyright holders.

Ernie DeVries on March 3, 2010

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Well, I'm the computer techie but just don't have any experience in this area. As for copyright, we've goat a ccli membership and are careful to stay within the rules for that.

Mark Hilbelink on March 3, 2010

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hey Ernie....

First, let me say that CCLI's SongSelect is the best place for 4-part modern worship songs, in my opinion, especially because you can transpose them. It should be said, however, that these are mostly just chord formations off the lead sheets (ie, taking the guitar chord and just attaching 4 notes to it - not made for actual 4-part congregational singing).

In regards to a MIDI setup with music notation software, its definitely a possibility, but may cost you more time and effort than you care to put forward.

I wonder, have you ever considered bringing in a vocal teacher who understands pop music dynamics to come teach your vocalists about harmonization in the pop/rock genre? I don't know of any modern worship bands in churches or otherwise who sing from 4-part hymn sheets/songbooks, simply because 4-part hymn-style singing is not really part of the pop/rock genre most modern worship music is written in. But no fear - harmony is still an important piece - its just often not written out as we're used to it - it is more of a learned ear-trained skill, developed over time.

One other point, I noticed in your comments here and Joyce's on the other page something about "songs should not be more than 2 pages". It seems to me that worship music has gotten a bum rap for years for being "happy-clappy" or "simple choruses", etc. (insert modern worship critique here). BUT, when bands like Hillsong United actually DO write complex worship songs (more complex than hymns, musically and lyrically, I might add), we complain that they're too long. The reality is simply that they're not MEANT to be played or sung off of 4-part hymn sheets, per the comments above.

That said, if you can make a songbook work, more power to you, brother!


One resource for contemporary worship songs that is very helpful is SongDiscovery ( - distributed by Worship Leader magazine). Every 6 weeks or so they provide a CD with recent worship songs, and include on the CD lead sheets (song melody, chords and lyrics) which are almost never more than two pages and sufficient for most "by ear" musicians. Copyright is addressed by them through your subscription so I believe you can make relatively unlimited copies of the music under a CCLI license for your use. Most important, your subscription gives you access to their archive, which is fairly substantial.

Regarding notation software, I use a very simple (and not very expensive) program called Noteworthy Composer ( to create lead sheets when needed (or for new songs or arrangements we create within our church).

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