Recycled Hymns

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Kevin Twit wrote an article for Reformed Worship titled "My Grandmother Saved It, My Mother Threw It Away, and Now I'm Buying It Back" where he argues that the hymns our grandparents sang and loved and that many of us or our parents showed distaste for, are now finding a place in the set list of today's worship leaders and in the hearts of younger Christians.  Like anything that makes a comeback they are not reappearing in exactly the same form as our grandparents day they have experienced a bit of updating.  Interestingly it isn't the words that this generation wants to update as much as the music, most often keeping the tune but adding rhythmic interest and of course accompanying the singing with instruments like guitars and drums (at the most basic level).  Many of the contemporized versions of hymns also include a new refrain, bridge or tag which helps the worshiper express the heart of the song or within the song itself respond to the hymn text.

So where do you find music for these updated hymns?

Here is a beginning list: 

1. Sovereign Grace

2. Hymn Charts

3. Praise Charts (search by hymn title)

While those are great places to find hymns that are common to most denominations that doesn't help with hymns more specific to the Reformed tradition (or even more specifically the CRCNA).  One group doing great work with Genevan Psalms is the Psalm Project from the Netherlands. 

The best resource by far are gifted musicians in your own church, encourage and empower them to write their own arrangements.

A place to start might be a hymnal like Lift Up Your Hearts which included chords for all the music in part to help church musicians play "off the page".  The iPad app created for the hymnal has lead sheets (see FlexScores) for individual users.  The Hymnary also sells lead sheets (see FlexScores) of individual hymns that can be reproduced using the right copyright license.  

Nothing beats learning from someone who already does this well.  Consider asking someone you respect if you can in essence "apprentice" with them for a time.  If you can't find an individual or community to work with consider the internet. I ran across the website "My Song in the Night" which has a lot of wisdom to offer.  And for everyone you can always turn to YouTube for inspiration and search for Contemporary Hymn Arrangements

What other resources have you found particularly helpful?  Have you or your worship team written new versions of hymns that you would be willing to share?  Anyone done a rendition of By the Sea of Crystal? 

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Thanks for all these resources, Joyce!  I will for sure look them up.  

We have done a guitar-driven, slightly altered rhythmic version of "How Great thou Art" for a number of years now, which our congregation has grown to love.  I would have to give credit to James Bloemendal (a professional musician with Ash & Bloom) who led some workshops with our worship team giving us some "band" expertise way back when we were just starting up a worship team.  I wrote a new tune for "Forgive our sins as we forgive" (text by Herklots) and added a chorus as well.  And I also wrote a new, simple little tune to the anonymous "Hear our prayer O Lord".   If you are interested in seeing those private message me!  I don't admit to being a composer really, but these just happened once while I was doodling at the piano.  

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I also love Tommy Walker's Generation Hymns album. Go to youtube and search for the videos - they're really good. I love seeing the generations together worshipping with the hymns.