Hymnals pose a constant problem for organ accompaniment. Since the usual four parts are printed on two staves with text, the resulting visual complexity is distracting to the organist. He or she must constantly separate the manual and pedal voices while simultaneously modifying the choral parts as needed to obtain a valid organ sound. Necessary fingering and pedal marks, plus needed ties only add to the visual clutter. The obvious solution is a three-stave organ score with stylistically needed rhythmic modifications of a suggestive nature.

The present collection addresses this need. For ease of performance, texts have been omitted, with all ties and parentheses for additional verses being retained. To play a superior accompaniment, the organist must know the words for all verses, presupposing careful preparation by both organist and director.

Organists should add fingerings and pedal marks according to their preference. In addition, brackets should be added where the tenor part is easier to play with the right hand or the alto is easier to play with the left hand (see Adapting Hymn Accompaniments, Hymnbook, pp. 385-6). The bass part is played with pedals only as notated, dividing the higher parts between the right and left hands.

Brackets indicating introductions correspond to those printed in the hymnal. The added ties show a standard approach. The organist can further modify the score according to their personal preference if so desired. Obviously, the omission of unnecessary repetitions is imperative for a musically sensitive result.

Finally, these three-stave organ accompaniments offer a valuable tool for self-improvement organ study. With carefully considered fingering and pedal marks added in pencil, according to the organist’s preference, each hymn presents its individual challenge to master. Mark phrase endings with commas to correspond to your congregation’s natural singing style. Patient, unhurried perfection of each individual phrase will inevitably result in constantly improving general organ technique.

As the scriptures remind us, hymn singing is a prayer to the Lord by the singers. All organists who use this volume for hymn accompaniment will find genuine satisfaction as they hear their congregation sing beloved hymns with conviction and enthusiasm to a carefully and thoughtfully prepared accompaniment.

Robert Cundick
Don Cook