Welcome to the Hymn Descants Blog

A descant is a counter melody written above the original melody. Its main purpose is to enhance the original melody without overpowering it. It heightens the effectiveness of the worship experience by adding a sense of climax and joy to a hymn.

Why hymn descants? I felt a need to expand my flute playing in church to more that just playing the various lines in the hymnal. Descants allow me to do this and bring more glory to God through my music. I found a few descant resources scattered here and there about the internet, but no one comprehensive site, so www.hymndescants.com was born.

This blog provides a forum for all to discuss descants as used in hymns. Posts can cover finding descants, writing, playing and/or singing descants.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Old farmer Joe went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. When he came home his wife, Martha, asked him what it was like.

"Well," said Joe, "it was good. But they did something different. They sang praise songs instead of hymns."

"Praise songs?" asked Martha. "What are they like?"

"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like hymns, only different."

"Well what's the difference?"

"Well, it's like this. If I were to say to you,

"Martha, the cows are in the corn," - well that would be a hymn.

But if I were to say to you,

"Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
The cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black-and-white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS,
Are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,

Then if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well, that would be a praise song."

The next weekend, Joe's nephew, a young, new Christian lad from the city, came to visit his Uncle Joe and Aunt Martha. He attended their local church in the small town. When he returned home, his mother asked him about the country church.

"Well," said the young man, "it was good. But they did something different. They sang hymns instead of praise songs."

"Hymns? What are they?" asked his mother.

"Oh, they're okay. They're sort of like praise songs, only different," said the young man.

"Well, what's the difference?

"Well, it's like this. If Uncle Joe were to say to Aunt Martha, "Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well that would be a praise chorus. But if he were to say to her:

"Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry.
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain?
There is in their heads no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God's sun or His rain,
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea, those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night

They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to the bright shining day by and by
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn
Where no vicious animals make my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn."

"Then if he were to sing only verses one, three and four, and do a key change on the last verse - well, that would be a hymn!"

Source: The endless e-mail forwarding of the web.

Saturday, November 7, 2009