This page was last updated 6 May 2022

Organ music composed and arranged by David Chamberlin

LDS Hymn Voluntaries

"An organ piece for every hymn in the book"

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About the music

My object is to create a musically interesting, not-too-difficult organ piece based on each of the 326 hymn tunes found in the 1985 LDS hymnal, Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each volume encompasses ten hymn tunes, following the numeric order of the hymnbook. Volume One covers hymns 1-10, Volume Two covers 11-20 (except that #12 has been omitted, awaiting permission from the copyright holder of that hymn tune), and Volume Three covers hymns 21-30, and so on.

Compositional style

Styles vary, but, with very few exceptions, in each Voluntary the hymn tune is placed in some kind of counterpoint with itself, ranging from strict canons to simple ostinatos based on motifs derived from the hymn tune itself. The cantus firmus (melody) may be decorated, elongated, placed in a lower voice, or a combination of these, to fit its new setting. I have tried to write as simply as possible without sacrificing contrapuntal integrity or harmonic interest. Voluntaries based on the sacrament hymns (found in Volumes 19 and 20 and forthcoming Volume 18) are subtitled "Meditations on the Sacrament Hymns," and they tend to be more complex. In the spirit of meditation, they may be composed more around the hymn tune than on the hymn tune.

Print format

"Volumes" of LDS Hymn Voluntaries always have been and always will be printed on three-hole-punched, fold-out sheets, eliminating page turns! Details have evolved to make the format more user friendly and/or economical. Each volume is sold in a shrink-wrapped packet. Interim "Packets," previously laser-printed on single, un-punched sheets, are now available as licensed PDF files.

Why are the volumes not numbered consecutively? Volumes of LDS Hymn Voluntaries are numbered to correspond with hymn numbers. The first five volumes were composed and published in numerical order. Then came the demand for Christmas music, hence Volume 21. Volumes 6-8 were delayed due to copyright issues, but most of their contents were published in interim Packets (see above). After Volumes 9 and 10, thinking that Easter and sacrament hymns would have special appeal, I began working backwards through hymns 101-200, hence Volume 20. Most recently I decided to modify that approach, because my determination to treat the sacrament hymns with greater artistic depth was slowing down the whole project. Volumes 11 and 12 came next, then Volume 19. Volume 13 is in process. When (if?) the project is (ever) completed there will be 32 volumes, comprising the 326 different hymn tunes found in the 1985 LDS hymnal. Onward!

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What organists are saying

Freshness and creative invention characterize David's delightful hymn settings. These pieces constitute a welcome and significant addition to the repertory of organ preludes on hymns in the LDS hymnal - imaginative and very well crafted!
-- Dr. Douglas E. Bush (1947-2013), BYU School of Music (1978-2013)

I have enjoyed some of David's hymn preludes for over twenty-five years, and I am so happy to see that some of his compositions will find a wider audience with this publication. These are not "formula" pieces - each one is crafted with great style and the composer's fresh perspective on the given hymn tune. If you are an organist looking for hymn-based literature for church, you will not be disappointed!
-- Elizabeth Forsyth, M.M.

Playing and hearing these Hymn Voluntaries fills the heart with devotion and inspiration. This music lifts us to a higher level of worship through its elegance of rich melody and harmony. David's arrangements are refreshing and stylistically rich. They are a valued treasure for an organist's library.
-- Ethelyn H. Peterson, MTNA Certified Teacher of Piano and Organ

These Hymn Voluntaries are a joy to play! The set is full of stylistic variety and bears the mark of a fine musical craftsman. The pieces are well within the reach of an intermediate organist.
-- Dr. Andrew Unsworth (in his former position as organist at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake City)

I can't say enough good about this stunningly effective set of Christmas pieces. These consistently fresh and appealing preludes are a joy to learn, to play and to hear. As a composer, I pay them the ultimate compliment: I wish that I had written them!
-- Daniel E. Gawthrop, composer

...compact, evocative pieces that are both winsome and noble. Models of craft and invention, they lie easily under the fingers and offer real substance to both the beginner and the seasoned organist. And to my mind, they represent a "gold standard" for this genre of organ literature.
-- Dr. Franklin D. Ashdown, composer

This page was last updated 6 May 2022

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