By Steve Brown, church musician at Messiah in South Windsor, CT and blogger at Worship Ideas You Can Use – January 14, 2014

My church has recently ordered a copy the Guitarist’s edition of the Christian Worship Supplement for my use in worship. Physically, it is a collection of 3-hole punched pages containing the lead sheets and chords of almost all of the new hymns and songs added to the new hymnal supplement.

Upon closer inspection, my smile grew bigger and bigger. I am a picky guitarist, and I know when chords have been simplified or when the guitar music has been written by a pianist and not a guitarist. This guitarist’s edition is first rate and extremely well done. The chords are complex, but clearly illustrated, and the songs have been transposed into more guitar-friendly keys where appropriate. The editors and writers even knew enough to not transpose to a key above the third fret, which would force us guitarists to retune our guitars due to the intonation errors associated with such a high capo position.

All of the chords are clearly defined in a graphical format under each song. In fact, the editors have included the original chord shapes and the new chord shapes in the songs that have been transposed. This allows for both a beginner and an advanced guitarist to decide whether to play the song in the original key or at the transposed position. A very nice feature indeed

Another wonderful feature of this music is the fact that the chords have not been simplified. There are some great slash chords such as C/E, D/F#, Bb/D, E7/G#, etc., suspended chords, major sevenths, and a liberal use of more intricate contemporary chord shapes (2’s, 5’s, +9’s, etc.). All of these chords are clearly identified in pictorial formats.

Another great feature is the fact that they have typically put all the lyrics under the melody line and the chord shapes. There are very few instances where additional verses are written below the musical score and without chords. This only occurs on the few songs that have many verses.

Lastly, I looked at a few of the hymns that were not put to guitar music and I can see why. They are the types of hymns that would require a different chord for every note in the melody line.

Bottom line, if you are WELS, and a guitarist, you need this resource. Kudos and a job well done goes to everyone on the hymnal supplement committee, the Commission on Worship, and the folks at Northwestern Publishing House on this product, and not only for doing such a fine job, but for having the foresight to even include guitar music to the hymns. I can’t wait to play some of these songs in worship.