2. Other sources for additional tunes

Most hymn books contain a selection of tunes in the more familiar metres, and any decent hymn book will include an index of tunes grouped by metre. In addition to the tunes here, if you have a printed hymn book with tunes the CCLI seems to accept that that licenses you to use the tunes in it that are still in copyright for your worship.

Second hand semi-antique hymn books can often be picked up very cheaply in jumble sales.

Although some are in this collection, there are undoubtedly plenty more good hymns out there that have fallen into disuse either because they have been linked to hymns that no one wants to sing any more, or have been numbed by poor arrangements. Most of them will be long out of copyright. There is nothing sacrosanct about how previous generations may have used or misused them.

There are also quite a number of suitable ballad and other tunes that can be plundered. If Vaughan Williams could do it, why not anyone else?

There are, though, four particular sources that are referred to in the headnotes.


John Playford published a well known collection of dance tunes in the C17. He also published a version of Sternhold and Hopkins with tunes. His version is in three part harmony.  There is an earlier version in four part harmony by Ravenscroft himself. The three part version was reissued by the late Gordon Ashman and the WGMA a few years ago.  A scanned version of the four part version is available on the web, but is unfortunately not all that easy to read.

Many of the tunes in these we still use today. So it is interesting to see how a familiar tune such as St Mary’s was seen in that era. Many others though have fallen into desuetude. They are a fascinating resource, though not as user friendly as they might be as they require the ability to transcribe some parts from obsolete clefs.

For those interested in history, there is a interesting possibility about the  ‘proper tune’ Playford gives for Old 68th. This is a DCM tune that is both dignified and slightly menacing. It is not in many modern hymn books, though it is in the stable-door Scottish psalter.  What is intriguing is that this is the psalm, and the version of it, that both armies sang before the battles of the Civil War.  We cannot know whether this was the tune that they sang it to, but it is exciting to imagine that it might have been. If so, they would have sung it unaccompanied, slowly and probably with some element of improvised harmony. The nearest modern sound equivalent would be the Gaelic psalmody of the Western Isles.

Praise and Glory

Praise and Glory is a book by Rollo Woods published under the auspices of the WGMA with a selection of psalms with tunes mainly from early C19 sources and assembled with the idea that they would be a resource to provide modern rural congregations with versions of the psalms that they could sing. Some of the tunes are simple four part versions, and others are more ebullient fuguing examples. Often even the simple four part versions are more interesting versions of tunes than the settings we use today.


This is a website that is part of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (http://www.ccel.org). It has on it a vast number of hymns and hymnals in various formats, with searchable indices. It is based in the United States. So it is slanted towards their hymn repertoire rather than ours. However, it includes many British hymns, and provides access to useful tunes that are much less familiar. It is also important to appreciate that US copyright law is completely different to ours. Among other fundamental differences, it is based on the date of publication, not on the date of death of the writer or composer.

The West Gallery sites referred to on the Links page

Such as the society’s own site, the Francis Roads site and the Sue Glover site.