20 Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ
Based on simple improvisations, these preludes are perfect for Sacrament services or other reverent settings. This book includes the following hymns (click on a title to hear a sample):
A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief , Abide With Me ‘Tis Eventide, Be Still My Soul, Choose the Right, Come Ye Disconsolate, Did You Think To Pray?, For the Beauty Of The Earth, I Know That My Redeemer Lives, I Need Thee Every Hour, I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go, Jesus Savior Pilot Me, Jesus The Very Thought of Thee, Love At Home, More Holiness Give Me, Nearer My God To Thee, O My Father, Prayer Is The Soul’s Sincere Desire, There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today, Though Deepening Trials, We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet
Aria for Organ
Believe it or not, this Baroque largo was written as background music for a computer chess game. Even so, I gave it my best effort and have always been proud of the result.
Organ Prelude - All Creatures of Our God and King
In 1994 I wrote three pieces for my friend Pamela Eby to play in a concert at St. Mark’s at Bishop’s University in Quebec. This is the first, an exploration of counterpoint using motifs from this remarkably fertile melody. (The other two are In Humility and Praise to the Lord)
Organ Prelude - As Now We Take the Sacrament
In October 2013 I decided to try to compose preludes for 24 sacrament hymns. This one is a Baroque setting in the style of Bach’s “Sleepers Awake”.
Organ Prelude - Behold the Great Redeemer Die
George Careless was one of those British immigrants who helped establish the Tabernacle Choir and raised the bar for music composition and performance in pioneer Utah. I find this prelude very moving – it would be wonderful with a string orchestra and solo wind.
Organ Prelude - Come, Follow Me (long)
This is one of my first organ preludes, still one of my favourites. The goal was to write a prelude similar to Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, with a counter melody as tuneful as the hymn itself. Unusually, the hymn tune is played in the pedals on 4′ stops.
Organ Prelude - Come, Follow Me
While I personally prefer my original setting, this is a shorter version, transposed to C (the hymn’s new key in the 1985 hymnbook) and using a more standard disposition of forces, with the tune played on the swell and the bass line on the pedals.
Organ Prelude - Each Life That Touches Ours for Good
I wrote this prelude for the funeral service of Varge Gilchrist, my childhood priesthood leader, my Patriarch, my home teaching charge in his old age and friend. He was on a first-name basis with President Monson from his time presiding over the Eastern Canada mission in the 60’s, and was beloved by all who knew him. He died at 96 but golfed until his last year. Great man.
Organ Prelude - Father in Heaven, We Do Believe
This chorale prelude features a gentle 9/8 obbligato in Baroque style. The moderate difficulty level, reverent mood and easily recognizable hymn tune make this piece a good choice for prelude music.
Organ Prelude - God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son
A dramatic prelude representing the lonely hero moving through the world.
Organ Prelude - God, Our Father, Hear Us Pray
A more romantic style – this tune was written as a part of a romantic piano solo, “Last Hope” , that was very popular in it’s day among the young ladies.
Organ Prelude - How Firm A Foundation
This hymn always makes me think of Amanda Smith, survivor of the 1838 Haun’s Mill massacre. In deepest distress, she hid in a cornfield to pray for relief and heard a heavenly voice repeat the last verse of How Firm A Foundation.
Concert Variations on How Firm A Foundation
As I worked on the chorale prelude for this hymn, several great musical ideas started to come that were not suited to a worship service, but still expressed some of my feelings about this hymn and its message. These variations are intended for a virtuoso concert.
Organ Prelude - How Gentle God's Commands
One of my favourite hymns – deceptively simple, yet profound.
Organ Prelude - How Great the Wisdom and the Love
This prelude is a fantasy on the tune, with whimsical references to two other sacrament hymns and free departures from the strict melody. The hymn’s composer, Thomas McIntyre, joined the church in 1854 in Edinburgh, crossed the plains by handcart and became a foundational musician in early Utah, playing french horn in the theatre and singing in the Tabernacle Choir. He probably would have been acquainted with Eliza Snow (Relief Society general president and wife of Brigham Young, an enthusiastic patron of the theatre). This is one of her finest texts.
Organ Prelude - Jesus, Once of Humble Birth
This powerful hymn by one of the great early apostles of the church, has always been a favorite of mine. This prelude is impressive, but relatively easy to play. If using it for prelude music, the ending is also effective if played softly.
Organ Prelude - Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me
During the covid crisis of 2020 my ward asked me to play two verses of the hymns while the congregation listened. I began a series of simple solos that keep the melodies very clear and unembelished so that someone might sing along to themselves.
Organ Prelude - I Stand All Amazed
The style here is Bach-like with a late 19th-century harmonic feel, appropriate to the milieu of the hymn itself. There is even a passage where the right hand thumb drops down to the great while the fingers continue on the swell!
Organ Prelude - In Humility Our Savior
In Baroque Largo style, this prelude is simple but effective. The lovely tune Hyfrydol (Welsh for ‘pleasant’ or ‘tuneful’) is common in other denominations, but often sung in a more lively style than Mormons are familiar with.
Organ Prelude - In Memory of the Crucified
This prelude, my first, was written as an assignment for an undergrad harmony course, showing that even an exercise can be a work of art. Alexander Schreiner, Tabernacle Organist and composer of the this chorale,Gailey, is one of my all-time heroes among church musicians. My Hymn of Light was written as an homage to Schreiner’s impeccable style.
Organ Prelude - Jesus of Nazareth
This is a sombre, yet hopeful meditation on LDS musicianHugh Dougall’s great sacrament hymn from the mid 1900’s.
Organ Prelude - The Lord My Pasture Will Prepare
This chorale prelude on the lovely tune “St. Petersburg” by Bortniansky, is mainly in trio texture. It must not be allowed to drag, but should flow calmly, evoking the ‘peaceful rivers’ of Addison’s poetic adaptation of the 23rd Psalm.
Organ Prelude - O God, the Eternal Father
This chorale was adapted from Felix Mendelssohn’s “Abschied vom Wald” (Farewell to the Forest), no.3 of a set of six songs for choir (Op.59). In my prelude, the running double line in the right hand is tricky to play legato, but can be achieved with some care. The prelude should be played in Romantic style, with some flexibility of tempo.
Organ Prelude - O Little Town of Bethlehem
I wrote this prelude one Christmas when I was visiting home and was asked to play something at the Stake Christmas fireside. It has been an audience favourite (and one of mine) ever since.
Organ Prelude - Praise to the Lord
This is one of a set of three preludes I wrote for organist Pamela Eby in 1994 when I taught a year at Bishop’s University in Quebec. These are concert pieces for a virtuoso organist.
Organ Prelude - Silent Night
This is a prelude I wrote in 2017 to play at my ward’s Christmas Eve sacrament meeting.
Fugue on The Spirit of God Like A Fire Is Burning
When I was studying for my doctoral comprehensive examinations, I decided to brush up on my polyphonic writing skills by composing a fugue on a familiar hymn. Decades later, I still feel like I succeeded with this one! I haven’t heard many things like it, and it’s fascinating to hear phrases of an epic LDS anthem like this one swirling around in the kaleidescope of a Baroque fugue.
Organ Prelude - There Is A Green Hill Far Away
This is a simple, yet harmonically rich setting that explores the tonal possibilities of this short but masterful tune.
Organ Prelude - Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love
This is my preferred melody for this hymn. I enjoy the harmonic and melodic flights of fancy in this prelude.
Organ Prelude - Upon the Cross of Calvary
A bit more esoteric than most of my preludes, I enjoy the Romantic richness of this setting.
Organ Prelude - We Ever Pray for Thee
This chorale prelude was written for the visit of President Hinckley to Ottawa in 1998 where I was privileged to play the organ. This was the last piece of prelude music played as President Hinckley entered the hall. The original hymn was written by Evan Stephens for a children’s trio to sing on a similar occasion, a ninetieth birthday celebration for Wilford Woodruff in 1897, almost exactly a hundred years before.
Organ Prelude - We'll Sing All Hail to Jesus' Name
For some reason, this lovely hymn is especially evocative to me of Sacrament meetings of my childhood. This prelude is one of the easier ones to play.
Organ Prelude - While of These Emblems We Partake
The name Alexander Schreiner on it’s own is enough said for me. Another masterpiece of chorale writing from the pre-eminent (thus far) LDS master.
Organ Prelude - With Humble Heart
Another baroque-style prelude.