Hymns for Choirs and Special Groups
“Hymns for Choirs and Special Groups,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 381–83
Using Hymns for Choirs
In this edition of the hymnbook no distinction is made between choir and congregational hymns. Choirs should use the hymnbook as their basic resource, selecting from the entire book. Choirs may also sing other appropriate anthems and hymn arrangements not included in the hymnbook.
Some of the hymns labeled “Choir” in previous hymnbook editions have been transposed to lower keys for greater congregational use. Choirs may want to keep copies of the past editions of the hymnbook to take advantage of higher keys and the possibility of modulating from one key to another. If only one copy of a previous edition is available, a hymn may be copied and used for this purpose, unless this is prohibited by the copyright notice.
Altering Hymns for Choir Performance
Hymns from the hymnbook, sung without variation, are always appropriate as choir selections. You may also vary your presentation of the hymns; however, use such variations sparingly, making sure they are consistent with the spirit of the hymn. Here are a few hymn adaptations you may wish to consider:
1. Have the men, the women, or both sing one verse in unison.
2. Have the congregation join the choir on the final verse or chorus of a hymn. (This is one way to help the congregation become more familiar with some of the hymns.)
3. Have the women sing one verse, as outlined below under “Hymns for Women’s Voices.”
4. Have the men sing one verse, as outlined below under “Hymns for Men’s Voices.”
5. Have the soprano and tenor sections sing a duet for one verse.
6. Have the tenors and basses sing the melody while the sopranos and altos sing the alto part.
7. Have one section of the choir sing the melody while the rest of the choir hums the other parts.
Hymns for Women’s Voices
In the women’s section of the book are hymns for women’s congregations and hymns that have been prepared for women’s choirs and trios. In addition, the sisters can sing without adaptation most of the other hymns in the book in two parts (soprano and alto) or in three parts (if the tenor part is not too low).
Hymns for Men’s Voices
The hymns in the men’s section of the book are divided into two categories: Men, for men’s congregations, and Men’s Choir, for choirs and quartets. For a congregational hymn in priesthood meeting, it is generally preferable to choose from the standard congregational hymns or from those marked Men.
Several hymns are specifically arranged for men’s choirs; in addition, many hymns for congregations and those marked Men can be adapted for use by men’s choirs and quartets:
Sing alto above the melody
The main problem in adapting hymns for a men’s choir is finding tenors who can sing as high as the alto may go; some high notes may need to be adapted. You may also transpose the hymn to a lower key, adapting the bass part.
For an example of an adaptation in the hymnbook, compare “Should You Feel Inclined to Censure” (no. 235), a congregational arrangement, with “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy” (no. 335), the same music arranged for men’s voices.
Another possibility in adapting a hymn for a men’s choir is to have the alto part sung below the melody. When this is done, the bass part is optional.
You will note that in the hymns arranged for men’s choirs, a tenor clef symbol is used instead of the usual treble clef symbol. You should generally play the right-hand notes of these hymns an octave lower than the treble clef. The result is a rich, effective accompaniment for men’s voices.