Congregational Songs

Greg Scheer

Orphan Tunes

Below are huddling masses of hymn tunes in need of a loving lyrical home. If you are a text writer, I would be honored for to open your door to one of these. I will soon have descriptions and PDFs of each tune. For now, feel free to email me requesting any of these.

There’s always a need for tunes that bridge the gap between straight-laced hymn and rockin’ praise tune. This is chordal enough for a guitarist or worship band to play, but could also be led effectively at the organ. The tune is more or less modal, yet keeps sliding out of the mode’s center. What holds things together are the strong sequences that follow a subtle inner logic--they guide your voice to the next pitch even when you don’t understand why. Why is the tune named "PEEPS," you wonder? Is it an ode to a marshmallow Easter treats that do amazing things when microwaved? No, it's slang for "people," as in Brian Wren's text, "We Are Your People." (PDF, MP3)


A tune that falls somewhere between regal and rustic--something that would be at home in a cathedral or a Sacred Harp sing. This is an unusual hymn tune that is a little more difficult than most, but it's one of my favorites. The melody slides from an E minor/pentatonic into a G minor/pentatonic scale in the second phrase. The harmonies, too, sneak off half way through, sprint in all directions, then slip back home in the last two measures. All this crazy stuff is going on, but the song is surprisingly singable--both the melody and the inner voices.Here's what I wrote: (PDFMP3)

One doesn't usually think of metered hymn tunes and Weezer-style punk anthems simultaneously, but for those times you do, there is STICK IT TO THE MAN. (PDF, MP3)

I originally wrote this tune for David Diephouse's metrical setting of Psalm 107, "Thanks Be to God Our Savior." The song sounds great when led by guitars in a downhome folk style, as you can hear in this recording by the incomparable COS Guitarchestra. But it also works well in a more stately style, as heard on this recording by the inimitable COS Joyful Noise Orchestra. Published with Diephouse's Psalm 107 text in Psalms for All Seasons, 107D. (PDF) D

In 2007 I fulfilled the lifelong dream of having a college adopt one of my tunes as their school fight song. While my rousing "We Are the Cougars" won Illinois Central College's fight song contest, my entry for their alma mater tune contest didn't fare as well. But their loss is your gain. You can replace their "pride of Peoria" text with lyrics of your own! (PDF, MP3) (C.M.)

Hymn tunes shouldn't only be for the older folks, right? Here's a common meter tune that would work perfectly for a children's song. The last phrase is repeated, so you can think of it as (PDF, MP3)

This is my homage to shape note singing. No, I won't stack it against the timeless tunes of Sacred Harp or Southern Harmony, but it has a certain rustic charm that may be just right for your text. (PDF, MP3)

A rousing tune in common meter. The text for which it was originally written, “The Islands of the Northern Sea Rejoice!” is a real foot stomper with valleys rising and mountains melting to plains. I knew the tune needed to be strong and solid, with a hint of sea chanty. My first draft sounded suspiciously like the theme from Gilligan’s Island (sea chanty indeed!). I re-wrote the offending “sit right back and you’ll hear a tale” section of the tune, but decided to commemorate my near plagiarism by naming the tune GILLIGAN. (PDFMP3) D (CMD)

A hymn tune contest was held for a CMD text entitled "Celebrate God." I wrote not one, but two, hymn tunes, giving me twice as many ways to lose. This tune is a festive minor tune, which to some people is an oxymoron. To Ralph Vaughan Williams and me, it makes complete sense. (PDF, MP3)

Same text; different approach. This time I went with a straight up Gospel hymn, a la Fanny Crosby. Hence the title "MY CROSBY." Hey, it’s better than MY FANNY, right?… (PDF, MP3) Refrain

This began as a new tune for a text on the Lord's Prayer by Thomas Troeger called “Let All Who Pray the Prayer Christ Taught." It gives this 6 verse text some breathing room, creating more space to pray the song. However, I'm not sure what Thomas Troeger thinks of it, so I'll make it availabe to others who would like to write new texts to it. (PDF, MP3)


SASQUATCH (LicenSing#31499)





A flowing tune with strong forward movement. If accompanied by organ it will sound like a traditional hymn; if accompanied by piano or guitar, its folk song qualities begin to emerge. Why the name INDY, you wonder? Was it because it reminded me of a tune by some indie band? Was it composed in Indianapolis, Indiana? No, it's in D. (PDFMP3)

This Common Meter tune was first written for the text "Thoughout These Lenten Days," which is paired with TALLIS CANON in Sing! A New Creation. I love the Tallis tune, but it felt too static for the movement that takes place in the six verses of James Gertmenian's text. So I wrote this sweeping melody that is reminescent of English cathedral melodies such as KING'S WESTON. One of my choir members liked the tune so much that he took to calling me "maestro" ever since he sang it. Since the tune earned me that title, I thought it would be an appropriate title for the tune as well. (PDF)

It's hard to do anything musical with 8 lines of 8 syllables. This tune makes use of repeated phrases and a lift into the major in the second half of the song to provide some shape to the meter. with refrain



First written for Sylvia Dunstan's "Blest Are the Innocents"



Originally composed for Timothy Dudley Smith's "As In That Upper Room"