The best hymnal for your local church is one that you produce yourself. It has all the songs your congregation knows and loves, and it leaves out the songs you know you’ll never use.
Most church leaders assume the cost of a custom hymnal is much higher than purchasing an existing publication. But for mid-sized or large congregations, the reverse is actually true. Here’s how the process works.
Step 1: Plan the project
If you’re a church leader that values hymnals and loves hymns, your congregation probably does as well. It’s likely you already have a list of perhaps 100-150 songs that you use.
In the preparation phase, you and your church leaders begin to firm up a list of songs to be included in the hymnal.
Step 2: Choose from a list of already-prepared songs
This hymnal service is first and foremost a ministry to churches. I’ve already typeset around 400 songs for other hymnals. If you want to use any of these songs unaltered, I’ll include them in the hymnal with no charge for the typesetting.
If you want to change the style, formatting, lyrics, or part-writing of any existing songs, there’s a per-song charge, but it’s still usually cheaper than starting from scratch!
You can view the list of available songs here:
Want to see the PDFs themselves? You can check them out here:
Step 3: Add your own songs to the list
Every church sings a unique list of songs. If there are songs that aren’t on the list above, I’ll typeset them for you.
I can typeset songs from existing hymnals, or part-write newer songs from a lead sheet (or even transcribe by ear, if needed). To typeset from an existing source, I charge $35 a song (that’s the most common scenario). If a song needs to be part-written or transcribed, that work is calculated hourly.
Step 4: Editing, layout, and indexes
This phase is the biggest part of the project. I typeset the songs you’ve chosen, and you and your team check them for errors and changes. The editing and proofreading phase is a great opportunity to include members of your congregation in the project.
I’ll put the structure in place for you to find and flag corrections. It’s typically best to collaborate using a shared spreadsheet, which allows you to keep track of how many editors have looked at each song. It’s time-consuming, but it’s a rewarding process. And it makes it possible to have a printed hymnal that’s free of errors.
Step 5: Printing
The world of print production has changed significantly in the past two decades, and there’s an increasing focus on self-publishing by individuals and smaller organizations (like churches). But there’s one principle that is unchanged: the more copies you print, the cheaper they are. NOTE: Hymnworks contracts with printing companies that use high-quality materials and a professional printing process, so the minimum order we recommend is 500 copies. You can print fewer, but the unit cost will go up significantly.
How many copies should you print? A good rule of thumb is to print at least double your average Sunday attendance. So for a congregation of 500, you really should plan to print 1000 copies. You can also sell copies back to your church members to help recoup some of the cost.
Page count is a big factor as well. Remember, you’re focusing on the songs your church sings. So a hymnal of 200-250 songs is a very manageable prospect.
It’s up to you to work directly with the print company, but I can make recommendations based on my experience with past products, so you can be confident you’ll get a printed hymnal that looks and feels professional and is built to last.
So… how much will this project cost?
That depends on a number of factors, of course. The most important are song count, how many songs you use from the existing list, and how many hymnals you want. But here’s one possible scenario: you compile a list of 250 songs, using 200 from my list and adding 50 to be typeset, and print 1,000 copies. With typesetting, page layout, and print costs, you could easily pay less than $8 per copy.
If you want a specific quote, contact me using the form below.