FAQ - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What are the rules for copying music?
See © The Church Musician and The Copyright Law
(See our Links page for information on copyright licenses.)
Q. Can I copy hymns from Presbyterian hymnals (either Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal  or The Presbyterian Hymnal: Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs )?
Presbyterian Publishing Corporation secured permission from the various rights holders to publish copyrighted hymns in its hymnals. By law, this permission does not extend to purchasers of the hymnals. If you want to copy hymns or songs from these hymnals (or any other publications), it is your responsibility to secure permission from the copyright holder. Services such as OneLicense.net, Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. (CCLI.org), and LicenSing.org provide blanket licenses that cover many, but not all, of the copyrighted materials in Presbyterian hymnals.
Q. Where can I find salary guidelines and information?
Due to recent rulings by the Federal Trade Commission, professional organizations like PAM are no longer allowed to publish salary guidelines. We encourage congregations and church musicians to engage in open dialogue about compensation, and come to terms that are agreeable to both parties. Our resource publication Guidelines for the Employment of Church Musicians in Presbyterian Churches offers helpful guidance about employment practices and considerations.
Q. As an employee of a Presbyterian Church, am I eligible for medical insurance?
Employees working 20 hours per week or more in PC(USA) congregations are eligible for insurance coverage through the PCUSA's Board of Pensions. Specific decisions about benefits available to employees are the responsibility of individual congregations. We strongly encourage congregations and job seekers to discuss insurance benefits as part of a comprehensive compensation package. For more information contact the Board of Pensions, www.pensions.org.
Q. Why do Presbyterian hymnals omit Amens from hymns?
There are a number of appropriate uses and meanings of Amen. This use in hymn singing is as a response signifying agreement. Such use goes back to St. Ambrose (4th century A.D.) at the time of the Arian heresy about the nature of Jesus Christ and the Trinity. The Arians believed that Jesus was half human and half divine; the orthodox position was and is that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. In counter to the Arians, St. Ambrose wrote a number of hymns in support of the orthodox position, which, it is believed, were sung in procession outdoors. The final stanzas of these hymns were doxologies restating the church's position. People in the streets who heard these hymns being sung would respond with "Amen", signifying their agreement with what they had just heard. Such hymns entered monastic life and were used routinely in the daily offices where they would be sung antiphonally by sections of the choir; the entire community would respond with Amen after the final doxological stanza. The important points here are that Amen was a response; that is, it was said (or possibly sung) not by those who had actually sung the hymn, but by people who had heard it sung and wanted to voice agreement. Also, it is historically a response, not to the hymn itself, but rather to what is said about the Trinity in the concluding doxology.
During the period of the Oxford Movement in the middle of the nineteenth century, many ancient Latin hymns (by St. Ambrose and others) were rediscovered, translated into English verse, and published in a number of hymn collections for congregational use. The translators and compilers apparently failed to note the responsive nature of the Amens in these hymns and Amen was attached to the end to be sung by everyone. This, of course, is redundant since it is not necessary for the people to express agreement with what they themselves have just sung.
The musical consideration involved is that the combination of chords (technically, a plagal cadence) in the typical Amen is much weaker and less final sounding than the chords with which most hymn tunes end. Hymn tunes are, after all, complete compositions.
Generally speaking, then, singing Amen at the end of a hymn is both liturgically redundant and musically anticlimactic. When one considers the history of congregational song going back at least to the time of the Psalms, it is also a very recent and short-lived phenomenon. Most recent hymnals in this country either omit Amens entirely or, as in the case of the new Presbyterian Hymnal, include them only very rarely in situations where the music is incomplete without them (e.g., some plainsong tunes).
Q. Is there a volume of hymn instrumentations for Presbyterian hymnals?
Not specifically. However, there are several general collections including one by PAM member Hal H. Hopson: The Creative Church Musician Series. The instrumental volume is The Creative Use of Instruments in Worship and is volume 5 in the series. Published by Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188, No. 8071. A purchasable option in the Glory to God app available through hymnary.org is a collection of instrumental parts indexed with the hymns. These parts are transposable and printable, based on the options purchased.
Q. Is there an "Organ Accompaniment for Hymns" CD, i.e. hymns that can be used in the worship service when an organist is not available?
The only such product we are aware of is published by the Methodist publishing house for their hymnal. Most publishing houses, denominational worship offices, and church musician professional associations tend to discourage pre-recorded accompaniment for a number of practical reasons, and some very strong theological reasons tied to a congregation producing its own praise and prayer. The use of pre-recorded accompaniments tends to discourage a congregation from nurturing and forming musicians in their midst. In addition, copyright licensing and production costs for professional recordings make these sorts of products cost-prohibitive for both producers and congregations.
Q. I frequently attend the Worship & Music conferences and pay my own expenses. Are any of my conference fees, lodging, travel, or meals tax deductible?
You should consult your tax advisor about the deductibility of any personal expenses you incur from attendance at conferences on worship and music.
Q. Are braille editions of Glory to God (2013) or The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990) available?
Yes, a digital Braille edition is available through Bookshare.org. There is currently no print Braille option because of the cost, $1,000 for a single set. But the digital Braille version is free to people with vision disabilities.
Q. Should our church perform a patriotic hymn for our Independence Day Sunday worship service?
Prayers for our nation are appropriate at virtually any time or in any place. Our leaders and those who serve our country at home and abroad need our prayerful support. People of faith are integral to our country's history, as well as its present and future. On a national holiday, sung prayers are certainly appropriate. All the while, we are mindful that national boundaries are not God's boundaries. They are human boundaries that are by their very nature intended to divide humanity, rather than unite it. God's love is boundless; it has no boundaries created by humans. When we worship God, we place God in the center of the lives of the community of faith being mindful that we are a global church and we pray for all who serve to bring peace and justice to our world, regardless of nationality.