The Pathway to Hymn Playing series is designed to mitigate the fears one might experience having been pressed into playing the organ for a worship service with minimal or no previous organ training. The initial difficulties of playing hymns with basic principles of organ technique are minimized by presenting the hymns in three voices instead of the traditional four, thus allowing one voice to be played by the right hand, the second by the left hand, and the third by both feet on the pedalboard.
Since this series is targeted to assisting organists who serve in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hymns from the denomination’s hymnal, Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are featured. The introductory volume, which was released at the Brigham Young University Organ Workshop in August 2014, contained twelve hymns that access a broad cross-section of both style and usage. This volume was further expanded and is available on WardOrganist.com.
While the driving force behind the arrangement of these trios is to create settings that will support congregational singing with basic principles of organ technique, one can certainly use these settings for prelude and postlude music by playing the hymn melody with a single solo stop or combination of stops and the other voices employing registrations that balance the melodic line. The repeated notes employed in the left hand and pedal may employ more liberal use of ties to suit the organist’s current technique should the indicated repeated notes be too difficult to execute.
The eventual goal of organists should be to reach the technical proficiency of playing the repeated notes as written. An effort has been made to provide only fingering and pedaling suggestions that will give organists a possible way in which to perform these trios. Hand and foot sizes vary greatly and organists should feel free to alter these recommendations to those that might more ably suit their individual situations. The Pathway to Hymn Playing series will eventually entail the simplification of a majority of hymns found in Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Finally, these settings serve merely as a pathway to playing four-voice hymns from the hymnal itself. I have observed that organists can make the transition quite easily once technical proficiency in these trio settings is achieved. One will also observe that key principles of part playing are introduced in this collection and that observation of these guidelines is initially easier to observe with three voices as opposed to four! It is my sincere hope that organists find these settings helpful as they strive to serve the Lord by providing music to both serve and honor Him. A suggested order of learning the trios may be found here. Once the organist has finished learning these trios, they are ready to begin learning hymns from the hymnbook!
Copyright 2023, David Pickering, All rights reserved.