Category Archives: Offertories

Away in a Manger – Piano Solo

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Well, I must admit that you all blew me away this past week! We reached over 500 likes in no time!

Thank you all for posting, sharing, liking, etc. I’m happy to share with you all this new Christmas piano arrangement of “Away in a Manger.”

The arrangement is late intermediate level with broken chords providing movement in the left hand and the simple melody in the right hand. The middle section changes to a quick 3/4, felt better in a combined one, then changing back to the original tempo and legato movement.

I hope you all enjoy the arrangement (click on link below)!

Away in a Manger – Piano Solo



Thanksgiving Music – We Gather Together

treble clefIt’s Thursday and Thanksgiving is five weeks away.

Does your church do a Thanksgiving service? We do a special service on Tuesday night of Thanksgiving week, complete with a chili supper afterwards. Yum.

Anyway, if you’re like me, you might be scrambling to find a piano arrangement to use at the last minute. Let me suggest this arrangement of “We Gather Together.”

No, I can’t take credit for this arrangement. But I can give all the credit to my sister, Christie.

Now, I did have the privilege of editing this arrangement, and I absolutely love it!

The arrangement is just advanced enough to keep you on your toes (and you will need to practice it at least once), but there is no reason why you couldn’t have it ready in 4-5 weeks.

Plus, Christie incorporates fresh chords and fun rhythms to make this traditional Thanksgiving hymn more interesting.

You can view sample pages, plus listen to sample audio of the arrangement. If you want to purchase the song, you will need to create an account at Glorious Assurance Music. Then you will have three attempts to download the song as a PDF.

Let me know what you think!

This post is part of a series I’m doing this month called “On-the-Go Pianist.” Click here to see all the posts!

Preparing music for National Day of Prayer

Are any of you playing music for National Day of Prayer this Thursday, May 2nd? I’m not personally, but my sister just texted me that I should do a post on it. Apparently, she is scrambling to find music to play! So, if for no one else, at least this might help my sister…of course, she could have just called… 🙂

If I were putting together a list of songs to use for a prelude (which is what my sister is doing), I would use patriotic songs for sure (I’ve included the most common keys that these are usually written in):

1. America the Beautiful (key of B flat)

2. My Country ‘Tis of Thee (key of F)

3. Star Spangled Banner (key of A or A flat)

4. God Bless America (key of F)

5. Faith of our Fathers (key of E flat)

Can you think of any others that I’m forgetting? I’m not looking in the hymnbook right now…

Then I would add some other retrospective songs, such as:

1. Sweet Hour of Prayer (key of C)

2. Draw Me Nearer (key of G)

3. Near to the Heart of God (key of D flat)

Any others?

Then, I would mix and match the songs according to their keys/relative keys for easy flow and modulations, like this:

1. America the Beautiful (B flat, modulate to C)

2. Sweet Hour of Prayer (C, modulate to D flat and repeat)

3. Near to the Heart of God (continue in D flat, then modulate to D and repeat, then modulate to E flat)

4. Faith of Our Fathers (E flat, modulate to F and repeat)

5. My Country ‘Tis of Thee (F – maybe switch meter on 2nd verse to 4/4)

6. God Bless America (F, modulate to G)

7. Draw Me Nearer (G, modulate to A flat and repeat)

8. Star Spangled Banner (A flat)

Many times, these types of services will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem. In this case, you would be ready to play the national anthem since you would already be in the key of A flat!

If you are looking for a special patriotic solo, here is a terrific arrangement of “America the Beautiful.”

If you are accompanying a soloist, keep the accompaniment simple. Don’t divert attention away from the soloist.

What else can you think of to prepare music for the National Day of Prayer? Please share your ideas, as I’m sure other pianists are busy preparing similar music.

A Plan for Offertories

Some churches have many options for musicians to use during offertories. Others, have just one — you! If this is the case, chances are there is more on your plate besides just offertories. I have found that in the hustle of preparing for choir specials, congregationals, and other special music, sometimes choosing and practicing the offertory can become a last minute occurrence. Today we’ll discuss a few brief tips and tomorrow we’ll finish up with some more planning tools. Here are a few thoughts that might help lighten the load.

1. Plan – Look at a whole month and determine how many offertories you’ll be expected to play. Write out a plan using congregationals, intermediate pieces, and songs you’ve already prepared. (More on this tomorrow)

2. Do not feel that every offertory has to be astounding – It’s better to be prepared with a more simple selection than to wing it with a more difficult song that really needs more practice.

3. If possible, employ the help of other musicians. Anyone who plays an instrument, helps out occasionally, and especially children or teenagers who are taking lessons are fair game to involve in the offertory schedule.

 Planning an offertory schedule eliminates last-minute anxiety and guilt. Even twenty minutes a month can really make a difference. Keep your list by the piano and practice when time allows.

Music Endurance

Depending on your church’s order of service, you (the church accompanist) might play for about twenty minutes, or at least sit at the piano for that long. When you leave the piano for the message, you might only have to play again for the invitation.

In our church, the offering occurs at the end of the service. This week is my turn to play the offertory, and I have been requested to play a “big” song. Last night, I went to our church auditorium and practiced on the grand piano. I wanted to get a realistic feel of the sound quality, so I turned on the sound system. Wow, it was loud (which was good)! My overall practice lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. During that time, I practiced my offertory at least ten times (sorry, I did not keep count). The first several times were horrible! My hands were cold, my reactions were slow and my head was pounding.

I took a break from that song and played some other songs for fun. Then I came back to the offertory and played it again. Finally, it sounded decent! Some spots were still shaky, so I singled out those areas and worked out the kinks. I played the song a couple more times until I felt very confident with the results.

As church accompanists, we play for many elements in the service – preludes, choir, hymns, special music, and offertories. All elements have importance to the service. With the offering at the end of the service, this is the last music the congregation will hear before leaving. My responsibility is to leave them with a positive reflection of the service. Therefore, I need to have the endurance to give it my best for every element – especially the offertory!

Of course, I cannot accomplish this on my own. The Lord gives me the strength and ability to play every Sunday. Everything I do is for His glory. I am prepared as much as possible; now I just have to rely on Him and enjoy the song!