How to make your own hymnbook

My latest preoccupation has been making a hymnbook. This is much more interesting than the last one, mostly owing to including copyright hymns this time.

I have dealt with copyright before. The Christus Rex Pilgrims’ Book included two copyright hymns. This new book is running at about 17 at the moment.

First step is to find out who wrote the hymn. Most hymnbooks give this information along with some dates. The hymnbook may also have an acknowledgement section that tells you who gives permission to print the hymn too. This is handy information to have.

Researching is much easier of late, thanks to Searching for information can lead you to all sorts of sources, such as religious orders, literary agents, music publishers, directories of retired priests and even genealogical transcriptions of epitaphs.

But the internet alone is only the beginning. You may also need to write letters and make phone calls, even international phone calls. The literary agent A P Watt is very prompt in answering their telephone so if you are calling them choose Telstra’s 0011 option (billed per minute) rather than the 0018 option (billed per half hour).

Some copyright holders let you publish their works for free as long as you credit them properly. The religious orders seem to fall into this category. The literary agencies can be more pricey going by the prices given on the A P Watt website. There are agencies specialising in copyright permissions for Church groups but they seem to focus more on annual fees rather than fees for printing hymnbooks. Word of Life does have a rate for printing hymnbooks though.

It does take time, patience and persistance, but it can be done. Maybe I’m saying that a little early, but each little breakthrough gives hope.


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