Happy Birthday HymnCharts 2019!

6 March 2019
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Comments:  6

by Don Chapman

Wednesday, March 6, is the birthday of hymncharts! I started the website in 2002 – 17 years ago.

Back then contemporary worship was still fairly new and online resources were almost non-existent. You might have found chord charts for your favorite new worship songs but there were no contemporary hymn arrangements (Word’s Hymns for Praise & Worship released months later in December 2002.)

As the new worship leader at a small church plant that met in an elementary school cafeteria I soon discovered I had better start including hymns in my praise sets, if you know what I mean (one deacon would count the number of hymns sung each Sunday and then give me a report card at the end of the service LOL!)

I also quickly found that including a hymn straight out of the hymnal wasn’t working. My praise band simply couldn’t play the complex chord structures, so I began creating my own arrangements.

The first hymn I tried, All Hail the Power, was a huge hit at church. I’ll never forget it – a young 20-something guitarist asked at rehearsal “where’d you find that cool new praise song?” and after church an older lady came up to me, literally in a swoon, and said “thank you SO much for singing that hymn!” You can download this arrangement for free by clicking the “free music” link at the top of this page.

I started creating arrangements every week or two. Before long I had a few that I knew worked with my congregation and I was confident enough other churches might benefit from them. In late 2001 I created a pre-cursor to the hymncharts website as a test and gave away 10 contemporary Christmas carol arrangements.

This test was such an overwhelming success that on March 6 I officially launched hymncharts.com with 12 arrangements: All Hail the Power, Amazing Grace, Come Thou Fount, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, Crown Him With Many Crowns, Holy Holy Holy, I Surrender All, It Is Well with My Soul, Power In the Blood, When I Survey and What A Friend We Have In Jesus.

Below are snapshots of how the website has evolved over the years – click an image for a bigger view: (that’s my praise band modeling in the 2002 version!)

hymncharts 2002

hymncharts 2003

hymncharts 2006

hymncharts 2013

 

These early arrangements only had a piano midi file for the audio demo as I assumed people knew the hymns and would simply want the sheet music and chord charts. How wrong I was – a few years later I realized my own praise team didn’t know half the hymns I was including in our praise sets so I began recording them around 2006. I still have a few of these early arrangements that still need a proper recording and that’s my big project for 2019 – to get most of them done.

How worship has changed in 17 years! My first arrangements in 2002 were much more “churchy” and typically have a key change for the last verse – this was at the end of the Don Moen / “God With Us” era if you remember those days. Next I went through more of a pop/rock phase reminiscent of a Paul Baloche style. Currently I’m heading into the modern sound with ambient, spacious arrangements like the new Blessed Assurance that would fit Bethel, Hillsong and Elevation. Now that I have the basic hymns covered in a blended/contemporary format I’ll revisit the popular top 20 hymns and give them this modern style.

As of this writing, in 2019 I have over 170 hymn arrangements and if the Lord tarries I’ll probably still be creating them in 2039 – can you only imagine what the worship styles will be like then! Thank you to all the churches over the years who have supported me and my music – I hope I can be a blessing to you all for many years to come 🙂

6 responses on “Happy Birthday HymnCharts 2019!

  1. Happy birthday and thanks for all you do!

  2. Grace Bent says:

    Thank YOU Don for your faithfulness and hard work! We have all benefited greatly from your amazing skills. What a blessing! Thank you so much! I pray that the Lord gives you many more years of faithful service!

  3. Steve Ray says:

    I love that you have GROWN in what is offered and have not been content with just the early arrangements. The day that you included Multitracks I did a backflip (figuratively)! It added an entirely NEW element to our traditional service (drums and electric guitars muted, of course) providing instruments that we do not have. And now we’re rockin’ the more upbeat hymns (with guitars and drums) in our contemporary service! Thank you Don!

  4. Todd Cody says:

    We used many of your early arrangements when I was running a praise band in our Lutheran Church. The congregation and musicians really liked your arrangements. Your hymn arrangements really helped me to mix in those traditional hymns that the the congregation still wanted to hear along with the contemporary praise songs. You did a great job with those arrangements. Thanks again.

  5. Kevin says:

    Congrats! May the Jesus to continue blessing of you did and where you are going…

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