Upcoming Performances

May 13, 5:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, First Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, N.C.

June 10
Guest recitalist, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rochester, Minn.

September 23, 4:00 pm Eastern
Guest recitalist, Schantz organ 40th anniversary, Culpeper Baptist Church, Culpeper, Va.

Entries in Free PDFs. Help yourself. (17)


Help Yourself VI

It's time for another exciting episode of Free PDFs from Joby Bell. Today's episode is about love, music, and baptism.

Click, print, and use these arrangements freely, with my compliments:


WONDROUS LOVE reharmonization

ENGELBERG ("When in our music" text) in G, with descant

ENGELBERG (Baptism text) in F, with descant


Help Yourself V: "Saved Alone"

Nothing I have done is as celebrated as a little arrangement I created for Melissa Givens and her inaugural recording project, let the rain kiss you. It's the hymn by Horatio G. Spafford, "It is well with my soul," tune Ville du Havre by Philip P. Bliss.

This hymn has endured, and the story behind the text is probably well known by now. Spafford's wife and four daughters were on a trans-Atlantic crossing when their ship collided with another, and the four daughters drowned. Mrs. Spafford's message in her telegram is now echoed in sermons, blogs, Sunday School lessons, and moving stories everywhere: "Saved alone."

This arrangement seeks to illustrate the calm of the ocean and life's troubled waters, while giving soloist and organist more to negotiate than quarter notes. Links are below to four versions for high and low voices with organ or piano accompaniment. Click, print, use, and please enjoy.

It is well (high voice with organ)

It is well (low voice with organ)

It is well (high voice with piano)

It is well (low voice with piano)


Help Yourself IV

Here is an arrangement of mine. Click, print, and use freely. And good luck with it! :)

Elijah Overture


Help Yourself III: "These are a few of my favorite hymns..."

I suppose we all have memorized more hymn stanzas than we think. Every now and then, a short phrase will pop into my head, and I'll take a few seconds to place it as a hymn I have known since childhood. The memories are more dear than the hymn, which is probably true for most people, whether they admit it or not. Just look at how often the same hymns and solos appear at wedding after wedding and funeral after funeral.

Texts aside, some melodies are utterly sublime to me. Below are a few PDFs of my favorite tunes reharmonized. I always hesitate to "mess" with some of these tunes, lest I take some of their original perfection away, but mess with them I have. Click, print, and use freely:

DOWN AMPNEY with descant

HENDON with descant

SINE NOMINE descant only



Help Yourself II

A joyous Christmas to you and yours. Click, print, and use these harmonizations freely, with my compliments:

ANTIOCH with descant

GLORIA with descant



Help Yourself


The rite of the right to write

Computers and email have turned our society into near-constant writers. Many of us communicate all the time, much of it written or typed. Not being a father, I can only guess that members of the younger generation do not even speak anymore as much as their parents would like. And of course, the grammatical errors that email and texting allow, yea even encourage, are another story. For now, I’m just pausing to consider the amount of daily typing in my life. I write lectures for this workshop or that class. I write a weekly blog. I create and respond to emails. I make daily updates to my CV and activity databases. I am currently writing in-house textbooks to use in my organ literature and sacred music classes. I write long emails to organ search committees and organists in need of advice. Just today I wrote a long email to a funeral home explaining why funeral organist fees should be higher than $75. I write memos to school and university administrations. I have written many reports during service on this or that committee. I wrote many front-page newsletter greetings during my term as dean of the Houston Chapter of the AGO, and I wrote countless ads, updates, and one article during my service as director of the AGO national competition. And on and on. You can relate.

In addition to all the words I have written, I have also been known to write music, most of it in the form of hymn harmonizations and other arrangements for organ solo. I have one hymn-anthem in print with AMC; the rest of it is stored neatly in Finale files. I submitted some of it to publishers and got all the usual responses: “The market is saturated.” “Our publishing lineup for this type of piece is saturated.” “We don’t publish this sort of thing.” “The market is not large enough for this kind of thing.” And of course, some publishers commit the cardinal sin of not even responding at all. But all of this is okay for me, for composing/publishing is not my career. I am quite satisfied being a performer and teacher. Nevertheless, I feel I have something to say in these pieces, and I want to share. If publishers don’t find them interesting, perhaps a reader will.

Therefore, I’m offering you "all my stuff" in PDF format, scattered throughout this blog in a tagged series called "Free PDFs: Help yourself." Bon appétit if you like any of it! Included:

-- 39 hymn harmonizations, many with descant

-- Malotte Lord's Prayer for congregation/organ

-- Wondrous Love octavo

-- organ solo arrangements of Elijah and Messiah overtures

-- organ solo arrangement of Reger Wiegenlied

-- vocal/organ and vocal/piano arrangements of It is well and Let all mortal flesh

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