This site is an interface to a database of Christian hymns and other worship songs. It's intended to help people discover (or remember) just the right song for a particular purpose. You can use this site to ask questions like...
- What are some songs about submission in Songs of Faith and Praise?
- What are some songs that refer to chapter 40 of Isaiah?
- What songs has Randy Gill written?
- What songs from Praise for the Lord have Spanish translations?
- I want to start a service with "We're Marching to Zion". Is there another call to worship song in the key of G that we could sing next, in a medley?
- My group wants to sing "Thou Art Merciful, O Father", but we don't know the tune. Is there a familiar tune with the same meter that we could use instead?
Of course, some of this information is available in other places too. Many songbooks, for example, list songs by topic, meter, etc. The goal of this site is to supplement those guides by being:
- Comprehensive: The database contains all the songs from popular hymnbooks such as Songs of Faith and Praise and Praise for the Lord — side by side with the catalogues of Zoe, Hallal, and Praise & Harmony.
- Flexible: You can search for songs with several characteristics at once, without cross-referencing different indices. For example: "What's a song about repentance in a minor key that isn't arranged as a solo?"
- Specifically designed for Churches of Christ: There are excellent sites like hymnary.org with tens of thousands of hymns from a variety of traditions. But if you're a worship leader deciding what to sing next Sunday, you might find it helpful to focus on songs that your congregation is more likely to know (and that already have a cappella arrangements).
The database distinguishes between songs and song instances.
A song is a unique combination of music and lyrics that we perceive as a unit. A song instance is a specific version of a song. If two songbooks include the same song, and their two versions are identical, those would count as the same song instance. But the versions would count as different song instances if they differ in any of the following ways:
- Key or time signature
- Additional lyrics
(E.g., some versions of "Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord" include the lyrics to "Amazing Grace"; others don't.)
The song information on the right side of the page gives details for each song instance separately.
Sometimes a song is printed under several different titles; the title assigned to the whole song is usually the most common one. If two songs would otherwise have the same title, they are disambiguated by the name of the tune (e.g., "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (Coronation)" vs. "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (Diadem)") or by the name of the artist (e.g., "Thank You, Lord (Mabry)" vs. "Thank You, Lord (Jernigan)").
The title and artist filters are not case-sensitive.
The title filter searches the titles of all song instances. There are three options:
- Match parts splits your input into parts (by spaces) and searches for titles that have all of the parts. The parts don't have to be whole words, and they can occur in any order.
- "All" matches any title that has the word all, but also words like call, valley, and hallelujah.
- "Love my" matches "I Love My Savior, Too", "My Jesus, I Love Thee", "Jesus, Lover of My Soul", etc.
- Match words is the same as "Match parts", except that the pieces in your input have to match whole words. A punctuation mark counts as a word boundary.
- "Go" matches "Go Tell It on the Mountain", "You Never Let Go", "Go, Labor On", "Where Could I Go?", etc.
- "Go" does not match words like going, gone, God, or amigo.
- Match string searches for the exact string you entered.
- "To me" matches "Good to Me", "Come unto Me", "Cristo Me Ayuda por Él a Vivir", "Prepare to Meet Thy God", etc.
- "Love m" matches "I Love My Jesus", "Love Made Me Free", "Why Should He Love Me So?", etc.
The artist filter treats your input in the same way as "Match parts" in the title filter. You can specify whether you want to search for the author of the lyrics, the composer of the music, the arranger, or any one of the three.
The tune name filter works like the title filter; it applies to the name of the tune (e.g., NETTLETON for "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"). Tune names are printed in all caps, but matching is not case-sensitive.
This database catalogues scripture references in songs. (More precisely, scripture references are linked to lyrics, but this section will refer to "songs".) These references include direct quotes, close verbal parallels, and other allusions. The guiding principle is specificity; a song is linked to a verse in scripture if it's clear that the song alludes to that verse in a relatively specific way: the author probably had that verse in mind, or the song contains a phrase or idea that could only have come from that verse (whether the author was aware of this or not). In practice, this turns out to be surprisingly complicated; here are the guidelines for how a "specific reference" was determined:
- Direct quotation: Songs that quote scripture more or less word-for-word.
- The easiest case is where the entire song is taken directly from scripture. For example, "The Steadfast Love of the Lord" quotes Lamentations 3:22–24.
- Sometimes a phrase in the song clearly refers to a particular verse. For example, "A New Anointing" refers to Genesis 1:1 with "In the beginning God created".
- Even very short phrases or individual words are recorded, as long as they refer specifically to one verse or a small set of verses.
- Some phrases are taken from a single verse; for example, the title "Prince of Peace" occurs in Isaiah 9:6 and nowhere else. Thus, any song that uses the phrase "Prince of Peace" is linked to Isaiah 9:6.
- Other phrases occur in a very small set of verses; for example, the title "Ancient of Days" occurs in Daniel 7:9, 13, 22. Thus, songs that use the phrase "Ancient of Days" (e.g., "O Worship the King") are linked to all three verses.
- Other phrases occur in a large number of verses; these references are not recorded in the database. For example, Jesus refers to himself as the "Son of Man" many times; thus, it's not clear that any song that uses this phrase is referring to a specific verse (or verses) of scripture. (Also, trying to record all those verses for every song that mentions the "Son of Man" would just be too much.) But if a song clearly refers to a specific passage, this is recorded (e.g., the song "Son of Man" paraphrases Revelation 1:12–17).
- The boundary between "a few verses" and "many verses" is fuzzy. If a phrase occurs in four verses, is that too many? Five? Six? Seventy times seven? This database probably isn't entirely consistent on that count in terms of which phrases/verses are indexed and which aren't.
- Close verbal parallels: Songs that have wording very similar to something that appears in scripture.
- Some songs are close paraphrases of a sizeable section of scripture; for example, "Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah" is a paraphrase of Psalm 148.
- Some songs use wording very similar to passages in scripture. For example, songs that refer to people being "white as snow" or "whiter than snow" may refer to Psalm 51:7 or Isaiah 1:18. If a song clearly refers to just one of those verses (e.g., "Jesus Paid It All" for Isaiah 1:18, since the song also mentions sin's "crimson stain"), it's linked to that specific verse; otherwise, it's linked to both.
- A song may use wording from a verse in a very different sense from its original context. For example, songs such as "The Lily of the Valley" allude to Song of Solomon 2:1, even though the phrase "lily of the valley" does not refer to Jesus in its original context.
- Other allusions: Songs that clearly allude to some portion of scripture, even if they don't use similar wording.
- Many songs allude to stories in scripture, especially events in the life of Jesus. Such songs are linked to these stories, as specifically as possible — that is, the database indexes only those specific parts of the story that are actually alluded to in the song.
- For stories that occur in more than one gospel, the database indexes all occurrences of the story, even if the song is clearly using one gospel's version of the story as opposed to another.
- Some songs refer to a theological concept that is introduced in a very specific place in scripture. For example, songs that refer to Jesus as "High Priest" are linked to a handful of verses in Hebrews (or a subset thereof, if it's clear that the song is referring to a specific passage).
- Some songs refer to a theological concept that occurs in many places in scripture; these are not recorded in this database. For example, for songs about forgiveness, you would want to do a topic search rather than a scripture reference search.
The goal of this filter is to make it easier to find songs that are related to particular scriptures. This does not mean, though, that every song listed with a given scripture is necessarily appropriate for a lesson based on that scripture. There are several reasons to proceed with caution:
- The song may be based on the whole verse or only a small part of it. At one extreme, the song may quote the entire verse; at the other extreme, the song may have just a single phrase from the verse (e.g., "King of Kings").
- The portion of the song that refers to the verse may be large or small. The database doesn't distinguish between cases where the whole song is based on the verse vs. cases where just one phrase in the song refers to the verse. If you're looking for the former, you can try combining a scripture reference search with the "Scripture paraphrase" or "Scripture quotation" topics.
- The portion of the song that refers to the scripture may not even be familiar to us. Scripture references are compiled for the full version of each song; this includes verses or sections that we never sing because they aren't in our songbooks. This is especially true for older songs, which often have many verses that aren't printed in our books. Even some newer songs may be known to us only in part; for example, some of the shorter new songs that we sing are actually just the refrain of a longer song.
To find the full versions of older songs, hymnary.org and The Cyber Hymnal are good resources. For newer songs, try Google!
- Sometimes only a particular version of the song includes a certain reference. For example, "Create in Me" is linked to Psalm 119:105 because some groups add "Thy Word" as a descant.
- All of the scripture references were coded by hand. Every attempt has been made to be thorough, but the catalogue necessarily reflects human biases and imperfect memory. For example, there are no songs linked to the book of Obadiah — but I wasn't looking very hard, and I might not have recognized a reference to Obadiah even if I saw one.
The language filter lets you search for songs written in a particular language. Most of the songs here are in either English or Spanish, of course. There are a handful in other languages, mostly Taizé songs.
Use the "Match all" option to search for songs in all of the languages you selected. This could be used, for example, to search for songs that have both English and Spanish versions. Note that this option applies "all" at the song level, not the instance level: it will return songs that have, say, one instance in English and another in Spanish, even though each instance uses only one language.
This procedure will not return all of the songs that could possibly be sung together in English and Spanish. Two song instances with different lyrics are grouped into the same song only if one is (more or less) a translation of the other — e.g., "This Is the Day"/"Este Es el Día". If two instances have the same tune but the lyrics have nothing to do with each other, they are counted as separate songs — e.g., "Iglesia de Cristo", which is set to the tune of "O Worship the King" but deals with a different topic entirely.
Use the topic filter to search for songs about a particular subject. The "Match all" option searches for songs that have all of the topics you selected.
The arrangement type filter lets you search based on various properties a particular arrangement might have.
- Alternating voices: Two or more groups of voices sing in an alternating pattern.
Examples: "Our God, He Is Alive"; "O Listen to Our Wondrous Story"; "Listen to Our Hearts"
- Canon: One group of voices starts later, repeating the same melody.
Examples: "Love, Love, Love, Love"; "Rejoice in the Lord Always"
- Chant: No fixed meter for part of the song; a measure lasts as long as it takes to sing the phrase associated with it.
Example: "By Christ Redeemed, in Christ Restored", printed as a chant in some books (Praise for the Lord) and with meter in others (Songs of Faith and Praise)
- Echo: One group of voices repeats exactly what another sings, in an alternating pattern.
Examples: "I Will Call upon the Lord"; "You're Worthy of My Praise"; "Deep Calls to Deep"
- Four parts: Sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses each have a distinct melody; voices are usually added one at a time.
Examples: "The Greatest Commands"; "Magnificat"
- Fugue: Each voice enters in sequence, beginning with the same melody but quickly branching off into something different.
Example: "Lo, What a Glorious Sight"
- Leader: The arrangement requires a leader who sings something different from the soprano line.
Examples: "Victory Chant"; "Angels Watching over Me"
- Men lead: Male voices sing the melody with female voices following (possibly with a different melodic line).
Examples: "Have You Seen Jesus My Lord?"; "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High"
- Other polyphony: Any kind of polyphony that doesn't fall into one of the other categories.
Examples: "Why Did My Savior Come to Earth?"; "O Lord, Our Lord"
- Solo: One voice sings the melody while others sing "ooh", "hmm", or some other meaningless syllable.
Examples: "Arise, My Love"; "Rabboni!"
- Soprano/alto/tenor/bass lead: One voice sings the melody while the other voices accompany with different words and/or rhythm.
Example: "Sing and Be Happy" (alto lead)
- Two parts: The song has two distinct melodies which are sung separately and then together, usually with voices trading parts.
Example: "You Are My All in All"
- Women/men only: Part of the song involves either women or men singing alone.
Examples: "Angry Words"; "Great Are You, Lord"
The "Include" option returns songs where at least one instance has one of the arrangement types you selected. The "Exclude" option returns songs where at least one instance does not have any of the arrangement types you selected. For example, to find a song for congregational singing, you might want to exclude solo arrangements. This setting would not return "Arise, My Love", because there are no purely congregational arrangements of that song in the database. But it would return "The Heart of Worship"; the Zoe arrangement of this song involves a solo, but the Hallal and TPH arrangements do not.
The songbook filter lets you search for songs from a particular source. "Songbooks" include traditional hymnbooks such as Songs of Faith and Praise and the catalogues of groups like Zoe, plus a few additional sources. The songbooks included in this database are as follows:
Use these filters to search for songs with particular key or time signatures.
The "Match all" option for these filters operates at the instance level, not the song level. For example, if you search for both E major and E♭ major with "Match all" selected, the filter will return "In Christ Alone" because the Zoe arrangement modulates from E♭ to E — within the same instance. The filter will not return "Abide with Me"; Sacred Selections for the Church prints this song in E♭ only, while Praise for the Lord prints it in E only.
The goal of recording the meter is to make it easier to find lyrics and tunes that can be put together in new ways. There are at least two reasons you might want to do this:
- Sometimes, singing a familiar set of lyrics to a different tune can help us hear the words with fresh ears. Try "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" to the tune of "Before the Throne of God Above", or the verses of "Living for Jesus" to the tune of "Be Thou My Vision".
- You might have a song that you want to sing because the lyrics are perfect for the occasion, but your group doesn't know the tune and there isn't time to learn it. If the lyrics are in a popular meter, you can find a tune you already know to use instead. For example, Barton W. Stone's "Come, My Christian Friends and Brethren" is a poem about Christian unity; it's set to "Love Divine" in TPH, but if your congregation isn't familiar with that tune, you could use "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" instead.
This database uses a variation of traditional hymn meter notation. Count the number of syllables in each line and join the counts with periods; for example, "Amazing Grace" is 22.214.171.124:
|Amazing grace! How sweet the sound|| ||8|
|that saved a wretch like me!||6|
|I once was lost but now am found,||8|
|was blind but now I see.||6|
Use "D" to indicate a pattern repeated twice. For example, "O Sacred Head" is 126.96.36.199 D:
|O sacred head, now wounded,|| ||7|
|with grief and shame weighed down,||6|
|now scornfully surrounded||7|
|with thorns thine only crown,||6|
|how art thou pale with anguish,||7|
|with sore abuse and scorn!||6|
|How doth that visage languish||7|
|that once was bright as morn!||6|
This database deviates from traditional practices in a few ways:
- A set of lyrics can have multiple meters. Traditionally, each set of lyrics is coded with the meter of the verse; if there's a refrain, "R" is added at the end. For example, "Lead Me to Calvary" would be 188.8.131.52 R. But sometimes the refrain has its own meter; the refrain of "Lead Me to Calvary", for example, is 184.108.40.206. In this database, "Lead Me to Calvary" is coded with 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168.
- Meter is coded for lyrics and tunes independently. Usually, of course, the meter of the lyrics is the same as the meter of the tune. But there are some cases where it's useful to code them differently:
- A single tune might fit more than one meter. For example, ELLACOMBE is set with "Hosanna, Loud Hosanna" (22.214.171.124 D) and "I Sing the Mighty Power of God" (126.96.36.199 D). The tune is coded as 188.8.131.52 D in this database — but because lyrics are coded separately, it's also associated with 184.108.40.206 D.
- The verses and refrain of a set of lyrics might combine to produce a meter that's worth coding separately. For example, the verses of "Lamb of God" are 220.127.116.11, and so they could be sung to other 18.104.22.168 songs such as "Lord, Speak to Me". The refrain is also 22.214.171.124; this means that the entire verse + refrain melody of "Lamb of God" is 126.96.36.199 D, and could fit with 188.8.131.52 D lyrics such as "In Christ Alone". In this database, the lyrics of "Lamb of God" are coded as 184.108.40.206; the tune is coded as 220.127.116.11 D.
- Anything that remotely resembles a meter is coded, not just the popular meters. The result is a bit messy; you'll notice that there are a lot of options listed in the meter filter. But the payoff is that it's a little easier to discover fortuitous matches. For example, "As a Tree beside the Water" is unlikely to be familiar to most congregations. But the verse and the refrain match the verse and refrain of "All to Jesus I Surrender"; the verse is in a popular meter (18.104.22.168), but the refrain is not (22.214.171.124).
Naturally, you'll want to use caution and common sense if you're looking for new lyrics/tune combinations. For one thing, the meter notation doesn't distinguish between songs with different stress patterns. For example, most songs in 126.96.36.199 (D), such as "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", have an alternating stressed–unstressed pattern that starts with a stressed syllable. But a handful, such as "How Deep the Father's Love" and "What Child Is This?", start with an unstressed syllable. This means that even though "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "How Deep the Father's Love" are coded the same way, their lyrics and tunes aren't actually interchangeable. In addition, plenty of lyrics–tune pairs just aren't appropriate. It's possible to sing "'Tis Midnight, and on Olive's Brow" to the tune of "Our God, He Is Alive", or "O Sacred Head" to "I'll Live in Glory" — but not recommended!
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