Lead Your Congregation's Song Brilliantly with Pull Out the Stops, Vol. 3

Apr 25, 2024 9:00:00 AM / by David Sims

Are you an organist looking for introductions and alternate accompaniments for hymns, especially those found in All Creation Sings and other recent worship resources? Pull Out the Stops, Vol. 3 is for you!

Accompanying assembly song is an organist’s primary role in worship. Each week we experience the duty and delight of leading hymns, imagining how we’ll musically unpack the texts we sing together. This might start with an introduction that establishes not only the tempo but also the character and mood of the hymn. Often this includes one or more alternate accompaniments that provide musical variety while enabling the tune itself to proclaim something about the text we sing.

Pull Out the Stops, Vol. 3 is the latest in a long line of hymn accompaniments from Augsburg Fortress. Some might remember the 3-hole-punched cardstock collections sold in sets that supported Lutheran Book of Worship. A few of those settings have been re-edited and published again in Pull Out the Stops, Vol. 3, including David Cherwien’s arrangements of DIVINUM MYSTERIUM and GO TELL IT and Emma Lou Diemer’s arrangement of EVAN.

A few arrangements come from the Augsburg Fortress choral archives, such as John Ferguson’s setting of HAMBURG that appears in a different key in his St. John Passion. David N. Johnson and Walter L. Pelz both have published choral settings of the tune ST. COLUMBA that we edited and transposed for inclusion here.

But the vast majority of settings in this anthology are brand-new arrangements, written specifically for this collection. We sought to include many hymns from All Creation Sings as well as other recent denominational hymnals such as Glory to God (Westminster John Knox Press, 2013) and Worship, Fourth Edition (GIA, 2011).

Some settings are bold and proclamatory, such as Eurydice V. Osterman’s arrangement of HYMN TO JOY, which starts with parallel planing 4ths to introduce the tune. Tedde Gibson, known both as a church musician as well as gifted a theater organist, launches into WHEN THE SAINTS with brilliant arpeggios reminiscent of a French toccata and then sets the hymn accompaniment as a gospel-style arrangement.

Some settings are exquisitely deep and beautiful, such as Daniel E. Schwandt’s setting of LES PETITES SOEURS. In the introduction, the hands play a gentle 3-against-2 pattern over a repeated bass line that allows us to gently and calmly hear the hymn tune before we sing it. Paul M. Weber weaves the plainsong tune Veni creator spiritus into the introduction for DOWN AMPNEY, creating a tapestry of Pentecost tunes that prepare us to sing. Brenda Portman’s setting of WILD MOUNTAIN THYME allows a simple trochaic rhythm to cradle the Irish melody, reminding us that so many of our hymns are folk tunes whose melodies were shaped over generations so everyone could join in singing.

We hope this anthology becomes a trusted resource for organists leading worship, enabling the people of God to sing together with thoughtful and joyful wonder.

Topics: Hymnody, Music Ministry, music, All Creation Sings

David Sims

Written by David Sims

David Sims is the Music Development Manager at Augsburg Fortress, where he directs the development and production of choral, instrumental, and assembly song resources. From 2014 to 2021 he served as Cantor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and worked previously as an organ builder and church musician in Indiana. David grew up in the cornfields of central Illinois and holds degrees in Church Music and Organ Performance from St. Olaf College and Indiana University. His compositions are published by Augsburg Fortress and GIA, and you can usually find him on a search for a new hymn text, recipe, or a source of coffee.

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