Every church musician has their go-to resources for worship planning, anthem selection, ministry leadership, and rehearsal planning. Some might say their planner; others, their hymnal. Some of you might find the lectionary an invaluable resource for planning and a one-a-day devotional for staying inspired. But what about when you're away from your desk?
Over the past few years, I've found a few resources that I go back to again and again and the best part? They're all online.
From worship planning to anthem selection, hymn choices to choir devotions, here are some of my all-time favorite online church music resources:
Do y'all know about Hymnary.org? This is one of my favorite resources.
Hymnary.org features a huge database of hymns from all different hymnals. Look up texts, additional verses, hymn tune information, and much more. Search by text, tune, writers, Scripture reference, or topic, and look up tables of contents for hundreds (thousands?) of hymnals and hymnal supplements. This site also features links to choral anthems, instrumental arrangements, and digital scores.
I use Hymnary.org as a quick reference for hymn numbers when I'm away from my hymnal, or to search for hymns by topic or scriptural reference. For my shop, I use Hymnary.org to obtain copyright information and compare different versions of texts from different hymnals.
A ministry of the United Methodist Church, the Discipleship Ministries website is chock full of helpful worship-planning resources, a lectionary calendar, music suggestions, hymn history, free handbell music, blogs, webinars, church-planting resources, and much more.
Those of you who direct children's choir might already know about Choristers Guild, but this is a great resource for all choral and handbell directors.
As a publisher, Choristers Guild offers a range of unison/two-part music, as well as SAB and SATB pieces, handbell music for all ages and abilities, and even a school choral curriculum. As a member, you'll receive reading packets, The Chorister publication, weekly emails, and access to exclusive online content.
Choral Net is a go-to resource for choir directors in church, school, university, and community settings. With a range of forums (repertoire, vocal technique, rehearsal strategies, and more), classifieds, and choral-related resources, Choral Net offers you an opportunity to join a community of choral directors, ask questions, share ideas, and interact with others in your field.
BibleGateway.com offers over 200 different Bible translations (in many different languages), as well as devotionals, topical indexes, and reading plans. A great resource for quick reference, looking up longer passages, or searching by topic, keyword, or Scripture reference.
I use BibleGateway.com to look up Scripture verses and lectionary readings each week, search for verses on a particular topic, and compare translations.
Imagine choosing a verse to read in several different languages on World Communion Sunday or Pentecost!
Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL)
In the United States, works published prior to 1923 are considered "public domain." For music, this means the works are freely available to you to study, print, use, and copy for your group.
The online Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL) offers a vast collection of over 21,000 choral and vocal works by more than 2600 composers. Search by title, composer, or season (for example, here are music lists for Lent and Easter); see texts and translations and composer biographies; and see lists of composers celebrating anniversaries in upcoming years.
Looking for more? Take a look at the IMSLP collection.
With articles spanning music, ministry, worship, and leadership, Creator Magazine offers digital issues, online content, interviews, anthem recommendations, personal stories from church musicians and leaders, and practical advice.
Online Hymnal Apps
Did you know? Some hymnals are now available in app form. In addition to being much more portable, many include audio files, search tools, and digital versions of hymns that are in the public domain. Here are a few you might find useful:
Evernote is a web- or destktop-based application and app used for note-taking, collecting ideas, keeping track of to-dos, etc. And it has so many applications! Use it for worship-planning, project management, inspiration, collecting ideas, etc. For more, and for a few helpful tips for getting started, read this post on the ins and outs of using Evernote.
If you do devotions with your choir or are looking to incorporate a short devotion into your weekly rehearsals, this is a great place to start. The National Lutheran Choir has put together a collection of devotionals and prayers written by members of their choir. Topics include gratitude, praying through music, fear, forgiveness, and communication. Read the devotionals here.
Prelude Music Planner
The Prelude Music Planner is an online worship-planning tool designed by church musicians, for church musicians.
This resource lets you browse and download music, create worship orders (Sunday by Sunday or for an entire season), and integrate the music in your church music library with music you've downloaded, so you can see everything in one place. Built-in sharing features let you collaborate with other staff members, share ideas and content, and keep everyone on the same page.
I love the Prelude Music Planner blog - full of helpful ideas for children's choir, hymn-singing, rehearsal-planning, choral techniques, and instrumental ensembles.
What are your favorite resources?