Top 10 Free Church Music Resources
Those of you with unlimited budgets, feel free to skip this post. The rest of us will enjoy this list of organ and church music resources that won’t cost you a dime.
Particularly in the case of students, some may not feel comfortable composing or improvising original music. Whether you are a student yourself, or a teacher with students who would rather not spend the money, here are some websites that contain everything from handbell and choral music to hymn reharmonizations as free PDFs:
In 2000, Bell received the Second Prize and the Audience Prize in the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. Since 2004, he taught organ and church music studies on the faculty of the Hayes School of Music, Appalachian State University. Bell pokes fun at the publishers who passed up his arrangements, explaining that this motivated him to supply them free of charge. Growing church musicians can not only practice these free arrangements, but also analyze chord progressions for application in their own reharmonizations.
This minimalist site provides exactly what it promises: free introductions/reharmonizations of popular hymns for organ. The site offers no biography or explanation other than a residential address in Georgia, but this no-nonsense approach is easy to navigate. Pieces won’t challenge seasoned organists, but anyone still becoming confident on hymns will appreciate their accessibility.
Many congregations across the Protestant church sing hymns such as Be Still, My Soul that Latter-Day Saints sing as well. There are some hymns unique to LDS, of course, but church musicians of all types will find simple arrangements at this website. I’ve linked to a piece specifically arranged for organ, but Free LDS Sheet Music provides music for SSA, SATB, and other ensembles.
I LOVE this blog not only for its printable schedules, vocal warm-ups, and handbell music, but also for generally informative and entertaining posts about church music. A Ph.D. student in Rochester, Danyew has the music and writing background that will leave you feeling inspired after reading her posts. She offers 62+ games for children’s choirs, rhythm pattern cards, step-by-step guides to creating your own reharmonizations and instrumental arrangements, and more. Danyew’s blog offers something for everyone.
New hymns, choral anthems, Communion responses, and more can be downloaded at this United Methodist Church blog.
The subheading for the website announces, “free piano and organ sheet music,” and you’ll find everything from solo organ Christmas music to piano/organ duets and many international hymns. Even those with enough music can browse and learn about more global hymns! Where else will you find an arrangement of Jehova, se nuestro guia?
Here, you’ll find a collection of anthems and motets, services and settings, hymns and psalms, organ and piano music, and a large selection of carols. This site seems particularly useful for anyone with a wedding in a pinch.
Rev. Gilette’s hymns prove useful especially in response to a specific church occasion or current event, such as O God, We’ve Prayed in Wind and Rain for victims of recent destructive storms.
Like shopping at Forever21, Musescore is cheap but risky. Some professionals do post compositions through Musescore, providing occasional gems. This site comes in handy when looking for particularly odd or obscure arrangements, such as the Hallelujah Chorus for a viola ensemble, which even the American Viola Society promotes.
Would a list of free online resources really be complete without a shoutout to our favorite public-domain music provider? Many of you are already well-acquainted with this site, but I’m always amazed to meet organists who are not aware of it. If you’re looking for a piece by Bach, Buxtehude, or any other composer whose music is legally available in public domain, you’ll find it right here. You do have the option of paying for a subscription so that you don’t have to wait to download, and I recommend supporting this great website if possible.