Creating your own parish hymnal.
  • If you are considering creating a custom hymnal for your parish, today is a good time to start the process.

    By tracking the hymns and music you use from Advent through the Assumption you will have a core of music for your hymnal. Sitting down then and adding the music for the remainder of the year, you will have a basic hymnal. Having this skeleton hymnal in hand, it's easy to fill it out with alternate hymns and music.

    A Hymnal can be professionally engraved, assembled into book form and a PDF created in three to four weeks time.

    However, that's often the easiest part and least time consuming.

    It's extremely important to work out the approval plan with the Pastor right along with the creation plan. From the start you need to carefully consider who will be approving the project - if just the Pastor is involved, things can go quickly, but as others in the parish and those above the pastor need to approve, the project can take months, or even longer.

    Approval over the music, the page design, the cover design - all things to consider and plan for in advance.

    Making a list of copyright tunes and texts as you build the book helps in getting things finished. A good reliable source today for hymn information is hymnary.org, a professional organization that is now able to generate income from sales of music, they have a good reputation and are quite accurate.

    Companies that publish custom hymnals are often a good source for advice when you have questions.
  • As Noel says, having anyone other than the priest involved is detrimental to the process.

    In my case this process took me a good portion of 7 months to complete due to stops and starts in the PPC. It ended up that I had very little choice as to what went into it at the very end.

    At first I thought it would be good to find out the 100 most used hymns and use those as my skeleton. I found that the choir only used about 15 hymns and so looked to other sources to beef up my selection. I then removed all the poor hymns and was left with a really nice set of 100 really good hymns to work with. I then added Gregorian hymns and some of the best Anglican hymns and came up with a really good list.

    I was then told that the hymns were not known to the choir and that only what they knew should be added. They furnished me with a list of hymns that they "knew", but never sang. I then had to remove practically all the good hymns and ended up with over 150 poor hymns. My only consolation was that I added some lovely ordinaries - obviously the Mass setting was not up for discussion, however, they are still using Geordie, Isreali, et al.

    The file is still on the PPC leader's laptop and has not been printed. We are coming up to 11 months. I have since left leadership and have moved to a parish closer to my home. The issue of leaving was work related, as I may have had to move to another province, but that thankfully did not come to pass.

    I will say that it has been an invaluable experience. I am now learning how to do engraving with Lilypond as a result f my little adventure. I would certainly do it again but I will be using only public domain hymns an making the selections myself.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,887
    but I will be using only public domain hymns an making the selections myself.
    That is exactly what I would do or not bother.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • JesJes
    Posts: 544
    My plan is to write my own hymnal entirely from scratch.
    I'll take public domain texts and set them to my own chorales.
    That's the plan, it won't come to fruition unless I live til very old age.