Conversation and information about music and liturgy from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Hymns at Liturgy Solutions

As a matter of fact these hymns cannot be found anywhere else other than at Liturgy Solutions. These are not hymn stanzas, but multi-stanza congregational hymns for your congregation to sing in Divine Worship as often as you like. Some of these hymns are texts that can be found in LSB, but have tunes that are different from those in LSB. Some of them will have tunes in LSB, but have new texts written to those tunes subsequent to the release of LSB. In either case, the hymns you find at Liturgy Solutions, are not available anywhere else. We offer them exclusively with the permission of the composers and the authors (poets).

Right now, we have several hymns posted by Stephen Starke and Stephen R. Johnson. But there will be more added as time goes by. In any case, these "Starke/Johnson" hymns are unique and are available exclusively HERE.

Now, a bit about the prices: We all know that if you want to use a hymn under copyright, you have to pay the publisher of that hymn a fee. You have to request permission in writing, and they send you their fee requirements for the use of the hymn. This fee almost always is for a one-time use for the hymn you are requesting. In other words, you do not have permission to use it anytime you wish, but rather, just for the one event or service for which it was requested. Fees for this could be as little as $25 or $30, or they could be much more, depending on how many times you need to reproduce the hymn for your congregation. A congregation of 100 attendees will not pay as much as a congregation with 600, and so forth.

When deliberating this at Liturgy Solutions, we determined that we would need to charge a little more for our congregational hymns than for our choral pieces. Here’s why: If you purchase a choral piece for a choir of 25, you will probably photocopy it 30 times. You will likely collect all those photocopies that were used and file them in your choral library after they have been used. You may need to make the occasional additional copy for lost pieces, because music can get lost over time.

On the other hand, when you reproduce a congregational hymn, you will copy it so that everyone in attendance can have a copy in his or her bulletin. This could be 60 or 80 copies, or it could be several hundred. And you will likely not save them. They will get thrown away with the bulletin.

For this freedom, Liturgy Solutions offers you a great bargain. Purchase a congregational hymn that you like for much less than a traditional publishing house would charge and use it as often as you like, knowing that you are supporting the work of the composer and poet who crafted these fine hymns. You may also enjoy the rich substance of these hymns over and over, every year without having to secure additional permission. We hope that this will help the Lord’s song to thrive in your parish.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


The main purpose of Liturgy Solutions is to help church musicians proclaim the appointed pericopes of the day that are normally sung. The Lutheran Divine Service is very flexible, and so the particular propers used from parish to parish vary. Some congregations use the appointed Introit to begin the Entrance Rite, others sing an Entrance Hymn instead, and still others sing the Psalm of the Day at that point. Similarly, between the first reading and the Epistle, some sing the Psalm of the Day, others sing the appointed Gradual. Some parishes use the appointed Verse before the Gospel; others use the setting in the service book provided as an alternative, in effect making the Verse an "ordinary" instead of a "proper". Then there is the Hymn of the Day, sung by the congregation. In Lutheran circles, this hymn is appointed and so in a way is one of our "propers". Hence, it is more likely to receive special treatment by the choir, and so we offer hymn stanzas to support that practice.

Most parishes establish a certain pattern about all this. Either the choir is in the habit of singing the Verse or they aren't. The do hymn stanzas or they don't. The Psalm of the Day is used or it is not. Some others, including mine, vary the practice. Some Sundays a choir singing the Verse of the Day, some Sundays the congregation sings what is in the hymnal. We usually sing the Psalm of the Day, but sometimes the choir sings a Gradual. And there about seven different ways we sing the Psalm, so there is variety there as well.

Whatever your custom is, summer usually means a break for your choir. Even where there is a summer choir, it is often a different, smaller group and so a different approach is needed. In places where there is a strict pattern for when the choir sings and when they don't, summer provides an opportunity to do something different. Congregations - and musicians - are more accepting of doing something different because of the season, especially if it is a simple variation. The advantages of this are two-fold: one can readily find something accessible for your musicians (who are fewer and rehearse less in the summer) and the congregation can learn through experience that the pattern of worship is about the Word, not when "it's time for the choir to sing."

Here are a couple of examples. In a place where the choir doesn't take stanzas on the Hymn of the Day, have a summer quartet sing a stanza or two each week using a simple SATB setting such as found in TLH. It'll be easy to put together, and the congregation can readily understand that "they're not doing an anthem because it is summer." (grin) As the people become accustomed to the blessing of this practice, you might continue it on occasion in the fall with your full choir, using a Bach chorale for a stanza on Reformation Sunday or even a creative setting from Liturgy Solutions. (Had to get that in there!)

Or maybe you are in a place where the Psalm is always chanted, and you have no choir for the summer. Once a month, the Psalm could be done instead in a song setting by soloist, with the congregation singing a refrain. Again, since there is no "anthem from the choir", people will be more accepting of this in the summertime. And, once they experience the blessing of the practice, they will be ready to have the psalm sung this way on occasion during the year.

What do you do with your propers in the summer?