New Piano Music for Worship: A Resource List

An abundance of new materials for church pianists was published in the last twelve months, with many different repertoires and styles from which to choose. Because of space constraints, I have chosen to list no more than three representative titles from each volume. You can find more information, including complete tables of contents, at publisher’s websites, your local print music dealer, or website stores such as burtnco.com or pianolane.com. Within great latitude, volumes are graded E=Easy, M=Medium, and D=Difficult

Traditional Hymns

John Carter. Gospel Treats for Piano. Augsburg Fortress, 2005. #0800677595. 28 pp. $14. M. Accessible arrangements, using the language of blues, gospel, and jazz with beloved hymn tunes. Tunes include HANSON PLACE; OH, HOW I LOVE JESUS; and VILLE HU HAVRE.

John Carter. World Music for Piano. Hope, 2005. #8249. 28 pp. $9.95. M. Nine arrangements of current favorites from around the world, such as the Ghanian “Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,” all written in the style of that country! Exceptionally fine.

Craig Courtney. Classical Hymns. Beckenhorst, 2003. #PC14-1. 40 pp. $12.95. M-D. These ten excellent hymn settings do NOT marry clair de lune to “In the Garden!” Instead, Craig sets very standard hymns, many for Holy Week, in styles of the usual 3 B’s and the unusual: Copland, Rachmaninoff, Satie, Ravel.

Rudy Davenport. Morning Has Broken: A Suite of Hymns for Piano. Morningstar, 2005. #15-833. 24 pp. $15.95. M. Seven pieces filled with appealing harmonies. Appreciation for the natural beauty of the earth a common theme. Includes royal oak, dix, simple gifts, and “September 11: A Prelude,” a freely-composed piece of special mention.

Virginia Halberg. Sacred Reflections. FJH Music, 2005. #FF1491. $7.95. D. Mostly devotional or meditative compositions. Highlights include “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “May the Mind of Christ my Savior.” Some arrangements have a classical feel inspired by Beethoven, Schubert, and Debussy. Or they are flavored with gospel or jazz techniques.

Marilynn Ham. Crown Him Lord of All: Hymns of Adoration. Lillenas, 2004. #MB-932. $12.99. M-D. Best-selling Lillenas keyboard writer of all time with classic hymns like “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”; gospel favorites like “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”; contemporary songs like “People Need the Lord.”

Michael Larkin. Be Thou My Vision: Ten Meditative Hymns for Piano. Morningstar, 2004. #15-832. 44 pp. $15.95. M. Artistic communion meditations on “Adoro te Devote”; slane; wondrous love.

Robert C. Lau. At the River: Piano Preludes on Favorite American Hymn Tunes. Lorenz, 2004. #70/1512L. $9.95. M. Sensitive settings preserving straightforward nature and enhanced with fresh material. Six pieces include the title song, plus “Simple Gifts” and “God Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens.”

Stephen Nielson. Stephen Nielson at the Piano; Inspiring Solos for Worship. Lorenz, 2005. #70/1528L. $12.50. D. Text-sensitive arrangements written with all the best sonorous resources of the piano in mind. Nine favorite hymns, plus an original “Fanfare for Worship,” include “Spirit of God, Descend upon my Heart,” “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”

Nancy Raabe. Grace and Peace: Hymn Portraits for Piano. Augsburg Fortress, 2005. #0800677609. 44 pp. $18.50. M. Raabe describes her pieces as “little sculptures in sound.” Includes BALM IN GILEAD; KIRKEN DEN ER ET GAMMELT HUS; O DASS ICH TAUSEND.

Joel Raney. Piano Meditations for Communion. Hope, 2005. #8247. 32 pp. $14.95. M. Joel’s setting of Twila Paris’ “Lamb of God” is emblematic of the tender love and care with luscious harmonies that he gives to all eight songs.

Kathy Smith. His Eye Is on the Sparrow: Songs of Faith for the Piano Soloist. Lillenas. #MB-931 $12.99. M. In addition to the title song, there is a strong “Rejoice, the Lord Is King” and an introspective “My Faith Looks Up to Thee.”

Carolyne Taylor. O Worship the King: Expressions of Praise and Adoration. Lillenas. #MB-928. $12.99. M. A diverse compilation of classic hymn tunes, gospel favorites, and familiar spirituals and folk songs. Includes medleys like “I Am His and He Is Mine” with “To a Wild Rose,” for those who enjoy familiar hymns in the style of composers like Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Vivaldi, and so on.

Paul Tatel. Seasons of Grace Piano Reflections. GIA. #G-6404, $19.95; CD #593, $16.95. M. Nicely written with surprising harmonies. Thirteen arrangements for the liturgical year. Includes “Morning Has Broken,” “Holy God,” “We Praise Thy Name,” “O Sacred Head.”

Dale Wood, arr. Gilbert Martin. Softly and Tenderly, Book 2. Sacred Music Press. #70/1484S. $12.50. M. Very tasteful settings of old, gentle, and beloved hymn melodies. Gilbert Martin has skillfully made the transition from organ to piano. Some of the titles are “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Wondrous Love.”

Praise and Worship

John Carter. Today’s Hymns And Songs II. Hope, 2004. #8206. 22 pp. $12.95. M. Quintessential John Carter includes “How Beautiful,” “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” “Shout to the Lord.”

Craig Curry, Jim Hammerly, and Bill Wolaver. Contemporary Hits for Solo Piano. Word Music, 2004. #080689383380. 62 pp. $14.95. M-D. Twelve worship songs tastefully interpreted. Includes “God of Wonders,” “Holy,” “Redeemer.”

Craig Curry, Ken Barker, and Carol Tornquist. Big Silver Book of Wedding Piano Solos. Word Music, 2004. #080689380389. 144 pp. $18.95. M. Everything needed to get married, including a contemporary adaptation of Mussorgsky’s “Promenade” from Pictures at an Exhibition. Don Wyrtzen wrote a “Festival Bridal Chorus,” and many of the wedding-appropriate praise and worship songs are here, such as “Bind Us Together,” “Love Will Be Our Home,” “Holy Ground.”

Mark Hayes. Well-Tempered Weddings. GlorySound, 2005. #M5053. 209 pp. $49.95. M-D. More of everything needed to get married, including four CDs, separate vocal leadsheets, and separate parts for instrumental obbligati. Of course, there are duplications of titles in this and the Word Music volume above, but each arranger has his own unique style. My advice is to get them both.

Lynette Maynard. Let It Shine: Worship Music for Solo Piano. Augsburg Fortress, 2005. #0800677641. 32 pp. $15.00. M. Includes “Lamb of God,” “Lord Be Glorified,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart.”

Jeff Nelson. Praise Band Piano. Word Music, 2005. #080689393389. $14.95. M. Use with acoustic and electric keyboards, guitar, bass, percussion. Rhythm charts. Ten songs include “Grace Alone,” “Take My Life,” “Purify My Heart.”

Jerry Ray. Awesome Praise. Alfred. #0-22446. $14.95. D. Twelve arrangements cover the exciting, the prayerful, and the jubilant. Includes “Awesome God,” “Majesty,” “Great Is the Lord.”

Larry Shackley. Lift High the Cross. Hope, 2005. #8242. 32 pp. $12.95. D. Well-crafted, generic, popular styles—mostly jazz. Enjoyable and good listening. May use in Lent or Communion. Includes “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” “Lift High the Cross,” “Lord of the Dance.”

Larry Shackley. Praise . . . Plugged and Unplugged. Lorenz, 2005. #70/1536M. $16.95. D. Blended worship duets with a MIDI keyboard. Ten songs include a “Thanksgiving Medley” and “Come Unto Him” from Messiah.

Larry Shackley. Time to Worship. Hope, 2005. #8246. 24 pp. $12.95. M-D. Almost virtuosic in its intensity, these eight worship songs throb with power and might, even reverently at times, and include many notes with tricky “but not impossible” rhythms.

Carol Tornquist. Sunday Morning Blend, Volume 3. Word Music, 2004. #080689391385. $16.95. M-D. Twenty-five hymns blended in medleys with twenty-five praise and worship choruses. Includes Redman’s “In the Presence of Jehovah” with “All Creatures of Our God and King”; Smith’s “Shout to the North” with “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues.”

Roger Summers. A Touch of Jazz, Vol. 2. Lorenz, 2004. 70/1527L. $12.50. M-D. Lorenz’s current bestseller. Fresh perspective to nine old hymns, including an ethereal “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” and an energetic “Come, Christians, Join to Sing.”

Douglas E. Wagner. Songs of Praise. Hope, 2005. #8245. 24 pp. $12.95. M. Easy-going contemporary style includes “Give Thanks,” “Lamb of God,” “There Is a Redeemer,” “Thy Word.”

Christmas

Rudy Davenport. Christmas Wonder, set 2. Morningstar, 2004. #15-845. 48 pp. $16.95. CD: $16.98. Split Track Accompaniment CD: $50.00. M. Innovative and appealing material. Includes ADESTE FIDELES, COVENTRY CAROL, NOEL NOUVELET.

Bruce Greer. Glad Tidings of Great Joy. Genevox, 2005. ISBN 1415820805. $19.95. M. Offers a solo part for each selection, plus a second keyboard part for another keyboardist as the accompaniment. CD tracks allow a pianist to be accompanied by orchestrations. Titles include “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella,” “I Wonder as I Wander,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

Inman, Bryce. Twelve Tunes of Christmas. Word Music, 2004. #080689389382. $14.95. M. Traditional carols with a contemporary sound. Includes “Silent Night,” “O Come, Emmanuel,” “Joy to the World.”

Lloyd Larson. Joy to the World. Alfred. #0-22429. $12.95. M. Ten timeless Advent and Christmas melodies from the hand of a master composer and arranger. Includes “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice,” “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow,” “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.”

Richard A. Lind. Christmas Lullabies and Carols for Piano. Augsburg Fortress, 2005. #0800677625. 36 pp. $16.00. M. Warm, reflective unique, peaceful settings are in a range of styles and moods. Includes conditor alme siderum, resonet in laudibus, w zlobie lezy, and some English carols.

Lynette Maynard. Sing We Now of Christmas: Joyous Piano Music for the Season. Augsburg Fortress, 2005. #0800677617. 56 pp. $19.50. M. Bright, crisp, fun-to-play arrangements, highly pianistic. Includes divinum mysterium, in the bleak midwinter, wexford carol.

Larry Shackley. A Jazzy Christmas. Hope. #8220. $12.95. M. Includes “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “The First Noel/The Holly and the Ivy,” “Fum, Fum, Fum.”

Eugene Ulrich. Adoration of the Magi. Prairie Publications, 2005. #805. 64 pp. Book $17.95. CD $15. M-D. Fourteen unique and fascinating carol compositions, fit for the concert hall and for the church. Includes settings of “We Three Kings,” “Deck the Halls,” “O Little Town,” and so on. Dr. Ulrich studied with Howard Hanson and is now retired from a lifetime of teaching (Phillips University). First publication of his compositions.'

Bill Wolaver. The Rhythm of Christmas. Word Music, 2004. #080689388385. $17.95. M-D. Ten contemporary settings of traditional carols. Includes “How Great Our Joy,” “Lo, How a Rose,” “What Child is This?”

Education Materials
(all graded E; all can be used to teach piano)

Fred Bock, adapt. by Lloyd Larson. E Z Bock’s Best #4: Christmas. Fred Bock, 2004. #HL08739798. $12.95. Includes “Mary, Did You Know?” “Away in a Manger Medley,” “He Is Born, the Divine Christ Child.” Lloyd Larson has proven himself to be a skillful simplifier of the late Fred Bock’s compositions.

Jolene Boyd. What a Friend We Have in Jesus: Easy Hymn Arrangements for Solo Piano. Lillenas, 2005. #MB-930. $12.99. Contains pedagogical comments by Jolene and practical guidance for creating medleys of multiple hymn settings. Includes hymns like “He Leadeth Me,” “The Love of God,” “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.”

Jolene Boyd. Playin’ and Praisin’. FJH Music. #FF1490. $5.50. One-piano four-hand arrangements of church hymns and patriotic favorites. Primo parts stand alone as solos, or may be used with more advanced Secundo parts. “O Come, Little Children,” “Jesus Loves Even Me,” “We Gather Together.”

Ellen Banks Elwell. Primer Praise. Hope, 2004. #8218. 32 pp. $11.95. Seventh book in the series. Basic one-line five-finger position melodies shared between hands, each accompanied by an attractive accompaniment for teacher or older student. Ten songs including “Seek Ye First,” “He Is Exalted,” “Shout to the Lord.”

Carol Tornquist. EZ-Play Worship. Word Music, 2004. #080689387388. $14.95. Twenty-five worship songs in a continuing series of big note folios. Includes “To Him Who Sits on the Throne,” “Knowing You,” “Sing Hallelujah.”

Janet Vogt, editor. Hymns ‘n’ Spirituals at Your Fingertips, Book 4. Heritage Music Press, 2005. #70/1508H. 32 pp. $6.95. Continuing the series which began with easy, moderately easy, and early intermediate books, this volume contains nine pieces such as the spirituals “Go Down, Moses” and “Deep River,” plus hymns like “Faith of Our Fathers” and “Be Thou My Vision.” Six different composers are featured in easy-to-play music with mostly flowing eighth notes.

Classical

William Phemister, ed. Four Hands at One Piano. Prairie Publications, 2005. #705. 64 pp. $18.95. D. First of two volumes of classical duet music suitable for worship services. Includes major compositions by Dvorak, Schubert, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, and Brahms’s own four-hand version of his “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place.”

Joseph Haydn, transcribed by William Phemister. The Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross. Prairie Publications, 2005. #905. 56 pp. $15.95. D. Definitive modern rendering of the spiritually-sensitive masterpiece originally written for string quartet. Nine movements, including a Prelude, the Seven Words, and the Earthquake. Perfect for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, in whole or in part. May be interspersed with spoken meditations on each of the Seven Words.

William Phemister (william.phemister@wheaton.edu) is professor and chair of piano studies at Wheaton College and editor of the Masterworks Piano Library.