Thanks to 21st Century technology you can find an abundance of free hymns online, whether you’re looking for information, sheet music, or recordings.
The word hymn is of Greek origin and translates as “a song of praise”. Interestingly, some of the oldest notated hymns discovered have been Greek texts, and there is also a great history in the Egyptian culture. Notable origins include ancient Egyptian hymns composed by Pharaoh Akhenaten, in addition to the Greek Homeric Hymns from the 7th Century BC.
Hymns are largely associated with the religions of the Christian faith, and the main singing languages are almost exclusively Latin and English. In today’s mainstream culture, hymns are well known and used during major Christian religious events such as Christmas and Easter, as well as having a resurgence in popular culture; recorded releases of Gregorian chant and religious choral music have seen an influx since the 1990s.
While contemporary sacred music and Christian worship music is a relatively recent genre (including Christian Rock), hymns are generally considered to be more traditional in their style as a way of differentiating between these songs of praise. A good place to learn about trending modern styles as opposed to hymns is praisecharts.com.
Although the genre of hymns encompasses a huge amount of music, the good news is that the Internet makes finding these resources easily accessible. Thanks to so many traditional hymns being in the Public Domain, much of the sheet music is available for free download, and the pieces can be performed and recorded liberally. PD Hymns has a fantastic collection of Public Domain hymns and provides a variety of formats including sheet music, lyric sheets, MIDI, and Finale files.
Hymn Time is another plentiful resource of over 14,500 hymns provided in a variety of languages and formats.
Traditional Music similarly provides music scores of over 600+ hymns available at The Traditional Music Libary
Songs and Hymns hosts a broad range of PDF scores, CDs and audio MP3 files available and easy to browse.
Depending on your ensemble and grouping requirements, you can find hundreds of nice piano arrangements of well-known hymns on sites such as 8notes, while melody lines and lyrics are covered in the catalogue at Garden of Praise.
There’s also a good mix of hymns old and new available and free to reprint as PDF on Music Sacra.
Whether you’re working with traditional free hymns or more contemporary music of faith, PlayScore 2 can help you in a number of ways. The app’s interactive playback features allow easy analysis and practice of your hymns by letting you hear your music scores the way you choose. You can edit stave volumes, instrument sounds, transpose and loop your music all while following the score and setting the tempo. PlayScore 2 means you can easily share digitised sheet music with members of your choir or ensemble with the tap of a button, meaning that you can concentrate on the music.