Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2001. 1-800-328-4648; order 0-8066-4074; ISBN 080664074X. $279.
The hefty price of this CD-ROM may give you pause, but stop and take a second look—it may be money very well spent.
This CD-ROM includes over 1,500 hymn and song graphics from four hymnals published by Augsburg Fortress (Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978; With One Voice, 1995; This Far by Faith, 1999; Worship & Praise, 1999), plus many other songs from ecumenical collections. All these songs are available for review, listening, and printing in text-only, melody-only, or text-and-harmony formats. For those wanting a clean look in the bulletin, this is a gem; these songs can be downloaded and then manipulated to fit your particular bulletin format. An added bonus is the easy-to-use search engine that suggests songs indexed by Scripture, theme, tune, or lectionary. There’s also a feature that allows you to hear the melodies you’ve selected, while the “details” tab on each song gives all the information, background, and alternative tune ideas you’d ever need. Finally, another necessary feature helps you easily obtain permission from copyright holders before reproducing copyrighted songs.
While this resource was intended mainly for Lutheran congregations, everyone can benefit. This CD-ROM has a wide range of traditional, gospel, global, and contemporary songs you might want to use in congregational worship. Your denomination’s hymnal in the pew rack is still there for the rest.
The only feature I wanted, but couldn’t find, is the ability to transpose the songs up or down to fit harmonizations I already had. And the downloading routine used to print out the songs is a bit confusing at first. That said, the $279 is really a bargain. For worship planning and for cleaner and easier bulletin printing, this is an idea whose time has come.