How to Accompany Hymns
Praising God through music is an integral component of worshipping Him. When King David was young, he understood the power of praising God and used it to appease King Saul whenever evil spirits disturbed him. Recognizing the importance of musical worship, King David later instructed the leaders of the Levites “to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy” for the house of God (1 Chr 15:16).
As accompanists for the church, we need to take this holy work to heart and pray for God’s abidance and empowerment so that our playing can glorify Him and touch the hearts of men.
- Lead the congregation to sing in unison and harmony to praise God
- Create a worshipful atmosphere through the precious gift of music from God
- Pray for the guidance and abidance of the Lord.
- Contact the hymn leader and/or sermon speaker for the hymn numbers.
- Find out if the service is intended for a special occasion, in which case there may be a special theme for the hymns.
- Consult the hymn leader and/or sermon speaker in advance and take note of the following for each hymn:
- Number of verses – if the number of verses differs between the English and Chinese hymnals, know how many verses are to be sung.
- Tempo – confirm the speed of each hymn
- Fermata – confirm how long they should be held
PREPARATION ON THE HOUR
- As accompanists are visible to the congregation, dress and groom yourself accordingly to serve God and represent the church.
- Arrive at least 5 minutes before the hymn-singing session.
- Let the hymn leader know when you are ready to play, and discuss any necessary details.
- During the hymn-singing session:
- Watch the hymn leader for the tempo before each hymn.
- When there is a fermata, look for the cue from the hymn leader on the next beat.
- Be familiar with hymn number 1-530. Take time to practice all the hymns so that they become familiar. Master tempo, rhythm, and dynamics as you practice each hymn.
- For the prelude to each hymn, play the last complete phrase of the hymn (unless it is an unfamiliar hymn, in which case play the first complete phrase).
- Have a brief pause between each verse and after any fermata for the congregation to catch a breath.
- Slow down at the very end of each hymn to indicate ending.
- Include an appropriate level of elaboration (but not so excessive that it draws attention).
- Most importantly, bring out the mood of each hymn for the praise of God.