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Recommended Reading for Church Music Leaders

Hopson, Hall (2004). 100+ Ways to Improve Hymnsinging, a practical guide for all who nurture congregational singing.  Hope Publishing. 

 In this easy-to-read and very practical book there are more than 100 ideas for church leaders and musicians who wish to improve the congregational singing in their churches. Some of the ideas consist of only one sentence, such as “Believe that with proper preparation, patience, and persistence a singing congregation can be developed”. (p. 6) Others are longer like the one that includes a list of hymns appropriate for children to sing, and another which shows selected stanzas of hymns that may be used for service music.

Large subsections include:
children and hymns, children’s choir, the creative use of the choir in hymnsinging, the creative use of the organ in hymnsinging, and the creative use of instruments in hymnsinging. 

The author, Hal H. Hopson, was born in Mound, Texas in 1933. He received his B.M. from Baylor University and his masters in Sacred Music from the School of Sacred Music of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. A church musician with a special interest in congregational singing, he is also a prolific composer with over 1300 works published.

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Bell, John (2000). The Singing Thing: A Case for Congregational Song.  GIA Publishing. 

The Singing Thing is the first of two books addressing the 'whys' and 'hows' of congregational singing. Unapologetically anecdotal, it deals not with musical theories but with the reasons why people sing and how best to enable them to do so.

This highly accessible analysis by John L. Bell, one of the world's leading experts on congregational song, offers ten persuasive answers to the question "Why do we sing?" Each is explored with a wealth of illustration and practical insight born of 20 years' experience in this field.

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---(2008). The Singing Thing: Enabling Congregations to Sing. GIA Publishing. 

In The Singing Thing Too, Bell's concerns are learning and teaching. How do people pick up new music? How do you encourage a congregation to learn a new song? How can you breathe new life into quality hymnody which has gone stale? With both tact and irreverence [humor], John Bell shares insights culled from over 20 years in which he and his colleagues in the Wild Goose Resource and Worship Groups have taught new songs in venues as diverse as old people's homes, with half a dozen hearing-aid users to Greenbelt Festival with over 10,000 gathered for worship. 

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---(2008). Sing with the World: Global Songs for Children. Book and CD. GIA Publishing

These global songs have been selected and edited by John Bell and Alison Adam of the Iona Community in Scotland. Both John and Alison have extensive experience teaching and singing world music with people of all ages. These songs are accessible--many of them instantly singable--and they have been chosen for use with children in a wide variety of worship and classroom situations. 

Words and music for 24 songs from 23 countries
Options for simple harmony, descants, and cantor parts
Simplified accompaniments suitable for student players
Indigenous languages, as well as English translations and pronunciation help
Suggested topics for each song, indexed for quick reference
Extensive notes containing thematic and worship suggestions

A complete companion CD is meant to demonstrate a model for style but also provides enjoyable listening. 

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