Basic Piano Hymn Playing

Learn how to play beautiful piano hymns. Suitable for solo playing or accompanying a congregation.
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  • Lectures 28
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 12/2013 English

Course Description

This is a basic course on piano hymn playing.

Learn how to improvise simple piano hymns using broken chords. The playing of broken chords sounds much better than playing 4 part hymn arrangements which are found in many hymnals.

This course is intended for those who already know basic piano playing and how to play basic chords.

The playing of the following piano hymns will be demonstrated:

  • What A Friend We Have In Jesus
  • Amazing Grace
  • Jesus Loves Even Me
  • He Leadeth Me
  • Near The Cross
  • Silent Night
  • There Is A Fountain
  • The Haven Of Rest
  • The Lily Of The Valley
  • Learning On The Everlasting Arms
  • To God Be The Glory
  • Hold The Fort

For many free piano mp3 hymns,visit hymnpod dot com.

What are the requirements?

  • piano or keyboard for practising
  • internet connection for viewing videos

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Identify Chords
  • Playing of fixed vs broken chords
  • Improvising the left hand accompaniment

Who is the target audience?

  • piano players
  • church pianists
  • home schoolers

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

In this lecture, I demonstrate the playing of a popular hymn entitled What A Friend We Have In Jesus.

Section 2: Hymn Improvisations

In this lecture, we look at how to identify the basic chords of the hymn What A Friend We Have In Jesus.

In the supplementary material, you will also be able to find a suggested piano arrangement for this hymn and a version that commonly appears in hymnals. I have also added in the suggested chords in the hymn book version.


It is important to be able to articulate the melody of the hymn clearly and expressively. In this lecture, I will demonstrate this.


In this lecture, we hear what the hymn sounds like when only basic closed chords are played.


In this lecture, we hear what the hymn sounds like when open chords are played. This is an improvement over the basic closed chords method.


In this lecture, we look at how simple transitions can be added between phrases of the hymn.

Section 3: Further Demonstrations

In this lecture, we look at how to identify the basic chords of the hymn Amazing Grace.

You can download a PDF version of this hymn from this link.


In this lecture, I demonstrate how broken chords can be used to improve the sound of the hymn.


In this lecture, I demonstrate how another hymn Jesus Loves Even Me can be improvised using broken chords.

You can download a PDF file of this hymn using this link.


Here's a version of another popular hymn - He Leadeth Me.

You can download a PDF file of this hymn in the Key of D Major using this link.


This is how I would play Fanny Crosby's Near The Cross.

Download a PDF version of this hymn.


Here's a Christmas carol or hymn. You hear this played everywhere in the month of December!


Here's another popular American hymn which was written by William Cowper.


The Haven of Rest was written by Henry L. Gilmore. It is one of my favourite hymns.


The Lily Of The Valley was written by Charles W. Fry.


This hymn was written by Elisha A. Hoffman.


Here's an all time favourite by blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby.


Hold the Fort is one of Philip Bliss' most well known hymns.


This hymn seems to be best played with strong sounding chords using the left hand.


For more formal hymns, it may not be necessary to improvise the accompaniment at all. For example, this hymn entitled I GREET THEE, WHO MY SURE REDEEMER ART may be best played by just playing the hymn in four part harmony as it is written.

I recorded this one using GarageBand and an electric piano.

Check out more of my recordings at


Here's a traditional favourite.


A famous hymn by Charlotte Elliot.


Another popular hymn. The version is in Db.

Sweet Hour of Prayer in the key of C Major
Section 4: Video Sing Along

Special thanks to Jack who has created some video sing alongs using MP3 files from my website (


Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.


Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

Christ, the blessed One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven.

Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.


The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.


O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Section 5: Conclusion

Thank you for viewing this basic course on hymn playing. Do let me know how you found this course and how I can further improve.

3 questions

Try this knowledge on chords.

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Instructor Biography

Christopher Tan, Church Pianist

I am a classically trained pianist who loves to play the old hymns. Hope you like my playing and explanations. I attend True Life Bible Presbyterian Church and also the Far Eastern Bible College in Singapore. I work as an IT Manager and enjoy creating media related to e-learning. I hope that you like my courses on Udemy. Thanks.

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