How to Modernize a Hymn – Part two of a two part series
“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” by Michael Schroeder
Let’s consider the doxology put to music, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” which is hymn number 334 in “Christian Worship” (the Lutheran Hymnal).
By looking at the hymn, it’s apparent that it is written in the key of G because it has one sharp. This already is a guitar friendly key so we are off to a good start.
Next, from the chord tables presented in yesterday’s post, we see that the typical chords in the key of G are going to be G, Am, Bm, C, D, and Em. Very important!
Next, by looking at the notes, we identify the chords and the best places for the chord changes. We can see from the lead sheet below that the artist, Michael Schroeder, is using a chord progression consisting of G, D, C and Em which are all in line with our expectations cited above. We’ll discuss the slash chords and extensions later.
First, let’s look at the intro. This is the musical hook for the new arrangement. It’s catchy, it’s a driving beat, it sets the mood for the song, it’s memorable, it’s identifiable, in short, it’s great. The key to the hook is the chord change from the G(no3) to the Gmaj7(no3) and the transition to the C2(no 3) and the Gmaj7(no 3) / C bass. These are not very well known chord voicings but once you know them, they sound incredible together. This is “jazzing up the piece” as identified in step five in yesterday’s post.
Next, let’s look at the lyrics and the structure of the song. The first and last verse are the same as the hymn verse. This is great because who wants to mess around with the doxology? But Schroeder adds two new verses that are biblical and support the overall themes of praise and thanks in the hymn. He also does a fine job of bringing out our praises to all persons of the Holy Trinity.
He has also added a chorus that does all the things mentioned in yesterday’s post. Namely, it is lyrically a response to the verse, it is sung higher and with more energy and it is memorable. It also uses all the major chords (tonic chords) in the key of G – G, C and D.
The structure of the song is Intro, Verse 1, Intro, Verse 2, Chorus, Verse 3, Chorus, Verse 4, Outro. You will also note that the “hook” established in the intro is used as a musical turnaround throughout the song. The arrangement is nicely and thoughtfully put together.
Finally, Michael Schroeder has done a stellar job of jazzing up the chords. He’s dropped the third from the G chord converting it to a power chord (essentially a G5 chord), he’s added slash chords to highlight a bass run to go along with the chord changes in the verse, and he’s using a Dsus and a few “2” chords, like the C2 for a real contemporary sound and feel.
All in all, a very fine job. This is what modernizing a hymn should sound like.
You can listen to a 1.5 minute sound clip of this piece here (song #10):
You can also purchase the CD from the Itunes site, or if you buy it from Michael Schroeder’s website ( www.michaelschroeder.com ), it will also include a free bonus CD with backing tracks, chord charts, lyrics, scripture references, commentaries and power points for each of the songs included on the disc.
Here’s my recommendations:
If you are a Pastor who has never tried anything like this before, but you are curious, I would propose to proceed carefully as follows:
- Buy the CD from www.michaelschroeder.com because the dual disc format and the extra resources will prove to be priceless to you.
- Use the bonus disc with the backing track for “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” and try it first with your youth or teen group if you have one. If not, try it with your choir first. My guess is that your people are going to love it.
- Have your choir or the youth group introduce it to the congregation by singing it on any given Sunday.
- Get a copy of the lead sheet from this website to your church musicians (pianist and a guitarist are a must for this piece). Have them practice it until they know it well.
- Sing it as a congregation using either the above two-piece band or you can still use the backing track if you don’t have the musicians.
- You might want to have a soloist or the choir sing the choruses because the E note is quite high for the average singer.
- God be with you. Email if you have any questions.
For a limited time, you can get the lead sheet by clicking on the following text: