If you’re a beginning or intermediate pianist interested in learning and playing hymn tunes — particularly those relating to the Christian faith — there are several issues working in your favor. First, as the words and tunes of hymns generally date back to pre-20th century times, most hymns live entirely in the public domain. For this reason, thousands of free hymns and gospel songs in the form of sheet music and music books, both popular and obscure, are readily available from countless publishing sources.
Of course, prospective hymnists will still have to pay for comprehensive, paper-based collections of hymns. However, with the growth of the Internet it is now possible to find extensive collections of free hymns in all corners of the Web.
Meanwhile, before embarking upon a serious study of hymns, it’s important for the pianist to build a solid foundation of historical understanding. After all, devotional music goes as far back as Christianity itself. Accordingly, many of the hymns that are played and sung today have long, rich histories, as does the hymnal tradition itself.
As many students of the Bible already know, the origins of the Christian musical tradition are found in the poetic passages of the Bible, Latest Gospel Songs specifically the Psalms of David and other poetic portions of the scriptures. The Psalms — a word whose original meaning comes from the Greek word for “songs sung to a harp” — are believed by Biblical scholars to be direct transcriptions of chants sung by pre-Christian Hebrews in the Holy Land. Thus, when we play and sing hymns, we are following in a musical tradition that predates Jesus’ time.
More modern hymnody has its origins in Gregorian chant, as well as in the works and writings of Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and other theologians of the Middle Ages and the Reformation period. Then, during subsequent centuries, as the melodic and harmonic range of music itself expanded, many church hymns developed a higher degree of musical sophistication, including multi-part harmonies, and detailed musical notation.