Welcome to The LDS Organist Blog

The purpose of this blog is to help pianists learn to become true organists. Many individuals believe that if you play the piano you can play the organ, but the instruments differ greatly. While this blog is specifically geared towards members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, much of the information shared can be utilized by all. I hope that the information I share here will help you become an effective organist in your ward, stake, or other congregation.

Feel free to browse and search this blog. It was started in January 2010 and while new posts aren't added very often, this blog contains a wealth of information and is a wonderful resource for all organists. If you're a new reader, you can find the first lesson here: Before We Begin: Acquiring the Essentials. Also, please "like" the corresponding facebook page, which is updated more often. A link is provided on the right sidebar, or you can click here.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Lesson 24: Creative Introductions for "Now Let Us Rejoice"

Click here for Lesson 23: Helpful Resources

A simple but effective way to increase hymn singing in your congregation is to utilize an introduction that will encourage good congregational singing. In a past article I discussed the importance of confidence and preparation, with two listening examples. I highly recommend taking the time to review that article before continuing on with this lesson, as preparation is essential before implementing the techniques taught today.

Begin Simply

The introduction can be a nerve-wracking experience for some organists. After the hymn is announced, everyone waits to begin singing while the organist begins to play an introduction. One way to counter-act these nerves is to begin simply. Here are three different ways to begin simply in playing an introduction for hymn #3 Now Let Us Rejoice.

1: Begin with the soprano line for a phrase; add the alto line for a phrase; add the tenor line for a phrase; add the bass line for a phrase.

2: Play the first phrase in unison, the second phrase in parts (either wholly on manuals or with pedal), the third phrase in unison, and the final phrase in parts with pedal.

3: Begin with a solo melody and move away stepwise to add in the remaining voices:
Now Let Us Rejoice Intro

In this example I kept all four parts in the manuals until the last phrase. The eighth notes can be changed to dotted eighth/sixteenth note rhythms instead, if desired. Click on the above example to view it larger. For demonstration purposes, I played the first part of this introduction under tempo, but in a worship service it should be played at tempo:

Moving Away From the Hymnal

 If you choose, it is also possible to use an introduction written by someone else. Many volumes of organ introductions and free accompaniments/harmonizations are available for purchase. When choosing this route, it is important to note which key the introduction is in! Playing the introduction in the key of Eb when the hymn is in the key of D would end in disaster. Remember--using this approach is more difficult that using the simple approaches outlined above. Good preparation is essential. Two examples of other introductions for this hymn are:

1: The Choirbook. A choir arrangement of Now Let Us Rejoice is available in The Choirbook. A suitable introduction can be pulled from this arrangement. However, please note the key signature: Either the introduction or the hymn will need to be transposed. At the Church music website, in the hymn player, this hymn can be transposed to any key necessary, then printed. Just make sure it is within the comfortable singing range of your congregation.

2: David L. Bytheway has a free (no-cost) free accompaniment available for this hymn. An introduction can also be pulled from his arrangement.    


Choose one of the five methods outlined above and prepare a creative (but not too creative) hymn introduction for hymn #3, Now Let Us Rejoice. Remember to keep in mind the text and melody. Simplicity is often more effective than complexity, but take care that the introduction is not too short (or overly long). Continue with music theory, practicing organ technique, and playing through pieces you've learned in the past, reviewing past lessons on this blog as necessary.    

In Conclusion

When done properly, using creative introductions can encourage members of the congregation to sing. Hearing something different can spark an interest in them to sit up and sing out. When done improperly, creative introductions call attention to themselves. If the organist is not well-prepared, members of the congregation will feel unsure about singing, afraid the organist will not support their voices. When the introduction is overly elaborate or ornamented, members of the congregation will focus on the organist and the introduction instead of preparing to sing the hymn. Using care when choosing an introduction, then listening to and following the Spirit is key. Help your congregation become excited about singing the hymns!

Continue on to Lesson 25: Leave the piano hands at the piano.

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