Guidelines and Creativity

31 January 2006 at 2:50 pm 2 comments

I just found the guidelines from the Church Handbook regarding choirs online. On the same page are guidelines about appropriate music for church meetings. Really, the whole page of guidelines is worth reviewing. It reminds me that the hymns are supposed to be the staple of the ward choir repertoire. This is something that I find that I tend to conveniently forget, probably because I have the potentially competing attitude that ward choir should inject something new into the meeting.

Of course there are ways to sing our traditional hymns in a fresh way. A colleague (and choir director of the ward that shares our building) arranges hymns for choir and also sets hymn texts set to alternate tunes. In my experience it seems that singing a well known hymn text, such as “He is Risen” to an alternate tune helps people pay more attention to the text.

Another good way to enliven hymns is by using some of the same arrangements the Tabernacle Choir sings from the Hymnals Plus series, arranged by some of the Tabernacle Choir organists. These books do require a good accompanist, preferably on organ. You only need a copy of the book for the accompanist and the director – you can either use the hymnbook or legal photocopies of hymns for the choir.

Commercial LDS composer Greg Hansen wrote an excellent article about ward choir for Meridian Magazine on this subject that is worth reading as well. Though I do take a little umbrage when he says, “There’s nothing worse than a music chairman always trying to sneak in a brass tune or fringe song” since I am at the core a trombone player. And I do think he exaggerates the requirement for “Hymns only”; to quote from the guidelines, “If other musical selections are used, they should be in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the Church.” But he does have some excellent advice about building up a ward choir that I really intend to follow.

So what do you do to follow the guidelines, but still bring something fresh and creative to your repertoire?


Entry filed under: Music ideas.

What did you rehearse? Sources of Ward Choir Music on the Web

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Katie Hutchinson  |  16 July 2006 at 10:31 am

    I really enjoyed Greg’s article. Thanks!

    After reading the article, I visited his website and found a link to a site that I found very interesting. It’s and seems like a good option for finding LDS sheet music. Best part is, you download it right there, so I don’t have to go driving around town trying to find a particular song.

  • 2. Sharon Bagley  |  7 September 2008 at 10:07 am

    Thank you for your very informative website. I am starting a new website and would appreciate having a link on your site; and I, in turn, will place your link on mine. I will offer a growing number of downloadable choir and hymn arrangements. Sincerely, Sharon Bagley


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