- Hymn pages have background about an individual hymn/song, PowerPoint slides - and sheet music, chord charts and on-line examples where they are available.
- Book listings contain the bibliographic information and detailed contents of each hymnal that is included - enough so that you can definitely identify whether the hymn is the one you are looking for, and whether the score provided has enough detail for your needs.
- The topic index and quick links (in the sidebar) give quick access to hymns with particular themes, or from some countries / themes.
- People pages - biographical information about selected "Christian folk" composers and writers
- Hymn requests - where you can request hymns and songs as candidates to be researches.
Where did the site come fromLiturgyTools.net was set up in 2010, to share tools and templates for music and worship-arts programmes in liturgical churches.
The material that was loaded initially included "an eclectic collection" of hymns that I happened to have made PowerPoint slides or sheet music (usually in lead-sheet format) for. As such there is a leaning towards Catholic "folk" style hymns that were used from the 1970s onwards - but the site is by no means limited to these.
Copyright restrictions meant that only public-domain or copyright-cleared songs could be loaded. Even so, many people came to the website looking for some very specific religious songs and hymns that were hard to find elsewhere.
However constantly publishing hymns and songs to LiturgyTools.net meant that subscribing to the site was unattractive: articles about church-music management issues and templates were lost amidst the much larger volume of hymns and songs. Also, some songs, while very suitable for use in church-contexts, are not well-suited to formal liturgies.
A new siteIn 2011, GodSongs.net was established to complement LiturgyTools.net.
The basics are the same: Copyright laws are respected. Good quality PowerPoint slides are provided for every hymn that is loaded - because PowerPoint can be loaded into almost every other display program in common use. Sheet music (generally in lead-sheet format, sometimes chord-charts) will be provided where it's available.
But instead of just loading songs that I happen to already have, I am now actively researching and documenting religious songs that people actually use and are looking for. Many of these are the sacred-music equivalent of folk-music, and this has led me to one of the guiding principles for this site: a focus on songs that people actually sing together, not ones that are mainly suitable for trained singers/musicians or commercial "talent".
As well, I have plans to gather information about some of the seminal publications that accompanied the sea-change in the music used in some liturgical churches from the 1960s onwards, which are not incorporated in the other hymnal-compilation sites on the web.
Folk-hymns?Initially, I thought that "folk hymns" was a good word to describe the types of songs that people were clearly looking for. However this phrase has a specific meaning, relating to early American writing and use.
And the "folk music" connotation is too narrow - there are hymns which are known, used and highly significant to people who do not identify with the "folk" attitudes and behaviours associated with the term "folk".