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Hymn Books and Music Theory

Ephesians 5:19-20

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

What tools can we use to help us become proficient in singing “a cappella”? If you look at the notes in our hymn book, you may notice the notes have different shapes. These shape notes help us to get a sense of the pitch each note should have. For example, in a hymn written in the C Major scale, the first and last note will be the “C” note. Each note in a musical scale has a special name, referred to as a scale degree. Each scale degree will have a different shape. The first (and last) note of any scale is referred to as the tonic note. The tonic note in the C Major scale is “C” and is in the shape of an equilateral triangle. Here is an illustration of shape notation from Encyclopedia Britannica. If you compare the note “fa” in the treble and bass clef in our hymn books, you will see the right triangle shape is flipped over in the bass clef. The full article on shape notes can be found here.

Hymn Books

The hymns are usually arranged in four parts. The highest note, found in the treble clef is the soprano part. The second highest note in the treble clef is the alto. In the bass clef, the second note from the lowest is the tenor. The lowest note in the bass clef is the bass.

These books are available for purchase:

Praise for the LORD

Songs of Faith and Praise

Sacred Songs of the Church

Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

Other Resources

I invite you to explore these links:

Religious Favorites – Piano book that contains many of the hymns we sing a cappella in worship. A great tool for learning and singing the hymns.

Southern Nevada Music

Faber Piano Adventures® – Music Dispatch

Faber Piano Adventures®

Adult Piano Adventures

Achievement Skill Sheets

Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises: Complete

World Bet Books – Music Theory books by David Nivans, Ph.D.

Books by David Nivans, Ph.D.




Scale and Arpeggio Manual by Walter MacFarren

Music Dispatch – Home

Every Note

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Beethoven: Five Great Piano Sonatas

Beethoven: 13 Most Popular Pieces

Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1-5

Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 6-9

Musical Analysis of Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart: 21 of His Most Popular Pieces

Mozart: Fantasy No. 4, K. 475

Variations, Rondo and Other Works for Piano

Sonatas, Fantasies and Rondos Volume I

Sonatas, Fantasies and Rondos Volume II



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