The Cyber Hymnal™

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I help? HTML 5, the language of modern Web pages, has an <audio> tag that lets browsers play music without additional plugins. The Cyber Hymnal™ uses MIDI files to play sound. But, though MIDI is the oldest and most mature audio format for computers, no browser yet supports playing MIDI in the <audio> tag. In fact, there is (so far) no low bandwidth, royalty free audio file format that all major browsers support in the <audio> tag! We want to get rid of plugins to make your—and our—life simpler, but browser makers have yet to be helpful.

The ability to play MIDI files with the <audio> tag is our greatest need. Tell the World Wide Web Consortium about it by sending an e-mail to Here’s where you can submit this request to browser makers:

Please let us know if any of these links become out of date.

If you know anyone else who uses this site, please ask them to submit theses requests, too! Help bless millions. Be patient, but persistent (Luke 18:5). And please pray for us!

For browser vendors: The first product to support MIDI in the <audio> tag will become our recommended browser!

Why don’t I hear music? If you want the music to start automatically on each hymn page, check the box on our home page that says Play Music Automatically. If it doesn’t work:


If you want to play the music manually, click the ♫ link. That should start the music in your computer’s music software (that is, outside the browser).

Unfortunately, the problem may recur, so repeat these steps if the music goes silent again later.

Sorry, we can’t diagnose problems long distance. If you still can’t hear the music, please see your local technician.

What’s the XML music link do? Why do only a few pages have one? It’s a hyperlink to the musical score in MusicXML format. This format is supported by a number of music annotation programs, such as MuseScore. If you have such an annotation program on your computer, clicking the XML link should download the score into your annotation program. This lets you view and edit the score even if you can’t read files in our native file format (currently, NoteWorthy Composer). If you don’t have an application that supports MusicXML, clicking the link will probably just display the raw XML (not the score) in your browser, or in an XML editor, if your system has one.

This is an experimental feature. If it works well, we’d like to eventually add XML links for all the music. Please note that the score generated from the XML file is currently less polished than the one displayed in NoteWorthy Composer.

It’s hard to read everything on a small screen. How I can reduce the clutter? Select the Short Version check box on the home page: It will reduce the data displayed on hymn pages. To temporarily reduce the data on a single page, click the black arrow in the upper right corner of the browser window; repeated clicks will toggle between the condensed and full modes.

Why do I get the message Access Denied in Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE)? We haven’t seen this message ourselves, but it seems to be caused by errors in MSIE. This link shows discussions of the topic and possible solutions. If you still get the error, we recommend using a different browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.

I found tune XXX in the tune name index (or on a biography page), but when I click the link, the next page plays a different tune. This can happen if the tune is not the primary tune on any of our hymn pages. In this case, the link points to a page where it is an alternate tune.

Why does the text in [language xyz] show rectangles, diamonds or question marks? Some possible causes:

Your computer doesn’t have a font that knows how to display the missing characters. For example, the default font used by Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) for Greek text under Windows XP is Times New Roman, which can display some, but not all Greek characters & diacritical marks. We’ve found the free font Gentium to be good a replacement for Times New Roman in the case of Greek. For other languages, browsers & operating systems, you can find fonts via Internet search engines.

If the problem persists even when the correct font is installed, your browser is probably ignoring the font: The mere presence of a font on your system doesn’t guarantee your browser will use it. Our site gives font hints to browsers for languages with non-Latin alphabets, but some browsers don’t bother checking these hints. However, many browsers let you explicitly choose the fonts to use for particular languages. For instance, with MSIE, choose Tools-Internet Options-Fonts (though even this doesn’t always work). Firefox seems to read our font hints correctly. For other browsers, please consult the help file or ask a computer support technician.

Why is the text/font hard to read? Our site doesn’t specify a particular font for English text (see next question for other languages). Your browser picks the font, so if it’s hard to read, you’ll have to blame your browser.

Why do some index entries have numbers after them? These indicate primary titles/names, etc. Mostly, this is for our own use as a convenient way to count the number of primary titles.

Is there an index of hymns by date written, by author birth/death dates, etc.? Sorry, no. We don’t have the resources to maintain such indexes.

Why don’t you have my favorite hymn, xxxxxx? If it was published after 1922, it’s probably copyrighted. Click here to see frequently requested hymns in that category. Also, if the title starts with A, An, or The, it’s indexed under the next word (that is, the indexes ignore these short words at the beginning of titles).

Why are some lyrics different than those in our hymnal? Our sources may have been different than those your hymnal used. Historically, hymnal compilers have taken liberties with lyrics, arrangements, etc., causing the (usually minor) differences you see. Even we sometimes make small changes to lyrics, though we keep such modifications to an absolute minimum. The most common reason is to make archaic vocabulary, spelling, or grammar clearer to those whose primary language is not English (due to the world wide reach of the Internet). However, we don’t undertake such changes lightly, & make our best effort to retain the original poetry.

How do you choose the tunes? We normally use the tune found in the source where we found the lyrics. If the source doesn’t assign a tune, we pick one that seems to fit best. This is rare, though; the tune we use is usually in a published hymnal. Exception: Some very old hymnals have only words, no music; in these cases, we try to find a tune that fits.

Why don’t you list tune xxx as an alternate for hymn xxx? The alternate tune lists are not exhaustive, & due to time & space constraints, probably never will be. We simply give some that we have seen published in various musical traditions. Also, please realize that what’s considered a well known tune in one denomination can be virtually unknown elsewhere.

Why do some portraits have gold-colored borders? This is our way of recognizing the contributions of people who have published one or more works on hymnology or the study of church music (hymnals & song books don’t count for this purpose).

Do you have high resolution versions of pictures? Sorry—the online images are the only ones available.

Is your site available on CD-ROM? Sorry, afraid not. As a low budget private site, we don’t have time to run a publishing business. Maintaining this site is a full time job.

How can I get the lyrics? Feel free to cut & paste any public domain lyrics directly from the screen. We don’t maintain a lyrics archive or database, due to lack of time.

How can I get the sheet music? We don’t publish or sell music. Much of the material on this site is out of print, so if you want a paper copy, check used book stores, estate sales, flea markets, or an antiquarian bookseller. Or, just click the PDF icon icon & print it (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

What are the NWC files I get when I click the NoteWowrthy Composer icon icon? This is sheet music in NoteWorthy Composer format. See our Downloads page for further details.

What’s the difference between PDF & NWC files?

  1. PDF is a general purpose file format from Adobe Systems. The NWC format, from Noteworthy Software, is specifically for sheet music. Both companies offer free viewers for their files.
  2. You can’t change the PDF files, but—with the full version of NoteWorthy Composer—you can edit NWC files (i.e., change tempo, lyrics or font size; fix errors; transpose keys or re-arrange the music; create MIDI files; add comments; etc).

How can I tell where the music came from? The NoteWorthy Composer files show the sources.

Why don’t you have more contemporary music? Copyrights. We can’t post copyrighted material without permission. If there are favorite hymns you’d like to see online, please get the copyright holder’s written permission before contacting us. Our Popular Hymns page has a list of copyrighted material people often request. Bottom line: please do your homework.

When I click the link for an alternate tune, I get an error message, or hear nothing. Different music might already be playing. Press your browser’s Stop button to terminate the music, then click the tune link again.

Why does the music stop after one verse? We have to blame your browser for this one. Both Microsoft® Internet Explorer & Firefox can play the music continuously. If you want to hear music for more than one verse, consider using one of these browsers.

Why does the music sound choppy? You might have an outdated software driver for your sound board, or other programs may be stealing clock cycles. We recommend closing other programs when listening to music.

Why does the music sound tinny/like a harpsichord/weird? You probably have an outdated software driver, or a low quality sound board/speakers. It’s probably worth some time to fix the problem. With the right setup, your sound should be almost CD-quality.

Why is the music so fast/slow? Speed is largely a matter of personal taste. If you want to change the tempo, you can download NoteWorthy Composer & create a MIDI file to suit your needs.

How do I decompress the archived ZIP files? You need an UNZIP utility.

Where can I get MIDI files for other types of music? There are many Web sites specializing in MIDI. Try looking on a search engine like Google.

Can you show guitar chords? Sorry, we don’t have that capability. But there are other Web sites that specialize in worship music played by guitar.

Why can’t I tell Autoplay the number of times to play the tune, instead of the length of time? This is due to a lack of support in the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) used on the World Wide Web. We encourage users to contact the World Wide Web Consortium & let them know about this concern. The more people they hear from, the more likely they are to fix the problem in future versions of HTML.

Our Web site links to the Cyber Hymnal. Can you tell us when your pages change, so we can update our links? Sadly, no, due to lack of time. But our Recent Additions page lists the new material we put online.

Do you have any family history on the authors or composers? This is outside our scope. We recommend you visit one of the many of genealogy sites on the Web.

Can I download your entire site? There are many programs on the Internet to download entire Web sites. For pages on our site which have restrictive copyright notices, you should first obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Can I play your music on a regular CD player? Not directly, but with some effort & the right software you could convert the MIDI files to MP3 format, then burn them onto a CD. You might see if your congregation has a willing & able teenager, as that age group often has experience in CD creation.

Who are you? What’s your denomination? This is a private Web site, doing our best to advance God’s kingdom, using the gifts He gives us. We belong to the same denomination as Jesus: Christian. — Dick Adams

How else can I help?

God bless you for your support!