17 Instrumental Collections for the Small Church Ensemble

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Instrumental ensembles are a great way to include and involve instrumentalists from your congregation and add a new dimension to worship services throughout the year. But, what if you don't have enough players to create a traditional instrumental ensemble (wind band, brass ensemble, woodwind quartet, orchestra, wind quintet, string quartet, etc.)?

Instead, you have violin, flute, trombone, saxophone, and ukulele. Can those instruments really play together as an ensemble? Where do you find music for that instrumentation?

Don't worry - I'm not going to suggest you write your own!

The solution? Flexible arrangements.

Flexible arrangements are structured in a way that any group of instrumentalists can play together. Many include a piano accompaniment to fill in the texture and provide support, so ensembles can be as small as two players and as large as full bands or orchestras. 

A friend of mine has used these types of collections in two churches now. Her current ensemble includes flute, guitar, cello, violin, and piano (she writes chord symbols in the piano score so the guitarist can follow along).

The arrangements feature two, three, or four parts - a combination of melody, harmony, and obbligato or descant. Simply assign each player a part and voila! Instant instrumental ensemble.

Mix it up by having different instruments play the melody line at different times, or varying the texture throughout:

- start with one instrument + piano accompaniment
- add another to make a trio
- use a quartet for the second verse
- end with a solo

If you're looking for music resources for your instrumental ensemble, here are a few collections (traditional and contemporary) to consider. Use them for hymn accompaniments for special services, prelude music, offertories, communion accompaniments, or postludes. The possibilities are endless!

Here are the collections sorted by style and number of players. Read more details about each collection below:

Traditional
Winds of Worship
Sounds of Worship
Hymnsembles
Hymns for Multiple Instruments
Jubilate Music Group All-in-One Instrumental Kit
Sacred Settings
Hymnal Companion for Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion
Sacred Trios for All
Christmas Trios for All
15 Favorite Hymns
Easy Ensemble Music
Sacred Quartets for All
Hymns for Ensembles: Instrumental Accompaniments for Ecumenical Hymns

Contemporary
Winds of Praise
Sounds of Celebration
Praise Him with Instruments
Exaltation Series

Two or More Players
Winds of Worship
Winds of Praise
Sounds of Celebration
Sounds of Worship
Jubilate Music Group All-in-One Instrumental Kit
Praise Him with Instruments
Sacred Settings
Hymns for Ensembles: Instrumental Accompaniments for Ecumenical Hymns

Three or More Players
Hymnal Companion for Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion
Sacred Trios for All
Christmas Trios for All

Four or More Players
15 Favorite Hymns
Easy Ensemble Music
Exaltation Series
Sacred Quartets for All

Mixed Large Ensembles
Hymnsembles
Hymns for Multiple Instruments

Flexible Instrumentation for Small Church Ensembles

1. Winds of Worship (Stan Pethel)
- 12 hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: piano, trombone, flute, saxophone, trumpet, horn
- can be performed with or without piano
- solos to mixed ensembles
- $12.95 per book

2.  Winds of Praise (Stan Pethel)
- 12 contemporary music arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: piano, trombone, flute, saxophone, trumpet, horn, strings
- can be performed with or without piano
- solos to mixed ensembles
- $14.95-$16.99 per book

3. 15 Favorite Hymns (Canadian Brass)
- 15 hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation for brass quartet, quintet, or sextet with optional keyboard accompaniment
- $6.95+ per book

4. Sounds of Celebration (Stan Pethel)
- two volumes (I and II), 10 blended arrangements in each
- each arrangement features a contemporary chorus and traditional hymn
- flexible instrumentation: piano/rhythm, flute, violin, alto sax, trumpet, cello, clarinet, tenor sax, trombone, percussion, bass/tuba, horn
- written as solos with optional ensemble arrangements for two or more players (mix and match melody and ensemble line)
- $9.99 for piano book, $5.95 for other instrument books

5. Sounds of Worship (Stan Pethel)
- 12 hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: piano/rhythm, flute, oboe, trumpet, clarinet, trombone, horn, alto sax, tenor sax, violin, cello, bass/tuba, percussion
- solos to mixed ensembles
- $9.95 for piano book, $5.95 for other instrument books

6. Jubilate Music Group All-in-One Instrumental Kit (arr. Ed Hogan)
- 10 hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: woodwinds, brass, strings with piano accompaniment
- solos to mixed ensembles
- reproducible CD with all instrumental parts - $49.95

7. Hymnal Companion for Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion (Richard Rose)
- four volumes: Lent/Easter (21 tunes), Advent/Christmas/Epiphany (21 tunes), Reformation/Praise (20 tunes), and Pentecost (20 tunes)
- flexible instrumentation up to and including full band/orchestra
- reproducible parts, transpositions, and descants
- $25.00-32.00 per volume

8. Hymnsembles(arr. Harold Burgmayer and Dana Everson)
- four volumes: I, II, III, and IV, 10+ hymn arrangements in each
- written for large ensembles with non-traditional or incomplete instrumentation
- piano accompaniment part fills in texture or adds support
- read more about this collection here
- $14.95 for keyboard/conductor book, $7.95 for other instrument books

9. Praise Him with Instruments(arr. Mark Kellner)
- 10 contemporary music arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion with piano/rhythm accompaniment
- solos to medium-sized ensembles
- $15.95 per book

10. Easy Ensemble Music (arr. Wesley Hanson)
- 25 hymn arrangements (patriotic, seasonal, and traditional)
- flexible instrumentation: C Instruments (violin, oboe, flute), Bb trumpet or cornet (or Bb clarinet), trombone (or bassoon or cello), F horn (or English horn), alto sax (or Alto clarinet), tenor sax (or bass clarinet), tuba or sousaphone (or string bass)
- quartet-style arrangements playable by four- or five-piece ensembles
- $12.95 for conductor book, $8.95 for instrument books

11. Sacred Settings (Robert S. Frost)
- 24 hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: cello, clarinet/trumpet, flute/oboehornpiano/organ/guitarstring bass,trombone/bassoonviolaviolin
- $4.45 per book

12. Exaltation Series (ed. Camp Kirkland)
- four collections, 10 hymn and contemporary music arrangements in each
- featuring quartet-style arrangements for any combination of woodwind, brass, or string instruments
- $14.99 per book

13. Sacred Trios for All (William Ryden)
- 17 hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, piano
- $7.99 per book

14. Christmas Trios for All (William Ryden)
- 19 Christmas carol and hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, piano
- $7.99 per book

15. Sacred Quartets for All (William Ryden)
- 13 hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, piano
- $7.99 per book

16. Hymns for Multiple Instruments (George E. Strombeck)
- two volumes (I and II), 12 arrangements in each
- arrangements feature three parts: melody, countermelody, obbligato
- written for large mixed ensemble: woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion
- playable with or without piano accompaniment
- $7.95 for conductor/keyboard book, $4.95 for instrument books

17. Hymns for Ensembles: Instrumental Accompaniments for Ecumenical Hymns (James Engebretson)
- 58 hymn accompaniments in vol. I, 59 hymn accompaniments in vol. II
- flexible instrumentation: flute/oboe, clarinet/Tenor sax, Alto sax, trumpet (Bb + C), horn, trombone/tuba, violin/viola (vol. II only)
- accompaniments feature melody and harmony part
- solos to mixed ensembles
- reproducible CD
- $75 per volume

BONUS! Hymns of Praise (Stan Pethel)
- nine hymn arrangements
- flexible instrumentation: flute, oboe, Bb clarinet, alto saxophone, horn, Bb trumpet, trombone/bassoon, euphonium, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, tuba, violin, viola, cello, percussion, piano
- $27.95 for piano/rhythm book (with CD), $8.95 for instrument books

Do you have an instrumental ensemble at your church? What are your favorite collections?

Read more:
The Concert Band in Church
How to Create Instrumental Arrangements for Worship
Ideas for Using Instrumental Music in Worship
Resources for the Church Instrumental Ensemble