Frequently Asked Questions
Where did this site come from?
Sometime in mid-1996, Elton Smith and Gilberto Barreto began creating midi files of Gilberto's songs.
We were singing these songs in church. Initially, the web site was a single page hosted on AOL with links to these midi files.
Over the years it grew. Here are some screen shots of what it looked like at various times:
Can I use a midi file as background music on my web site? In my emails?
If you want to use the midi files as background music on your web site,
please provide a link back to this site and notify Elton
through email. Click here for instructions for playing background midi and linking.
If you use MS Outlook or Outlook Express, please check out these pages at CloudEight stationery: the Vera Griffin Collection, and the Danny Hahlbohm Collection. Both of these stationery collections feature Songs of Praise midi files.
Can my church really sing these songs without paying anything?
These songs are freely available for non-commercial use. Matthew 10:8 says, "Freely you have received, freely give". We believe these songs are inspired by God. Please feel free to use them to his glory and praise in your church or home. If God decides to give any of us a musical career as a result of this activity, that will be welcome, but money is not the reason for writing these songs. If you want to use a song on a recording or album that you intend to sell, please contact the songwriter(s) for permission. These songs are copyrighted and should not be used for commercial purposes without the songwriter(s) consent.
If your church is registered with CCLI, please report your use of our songs to them. I have registered a large number of these songs with CCLI and will put the registration numbers on the song materials as they become available. In the mean time, please register usage by title and authors. If you are not in CCLI, do not be concerned. There is no charge for using these songs.
Are there any recordings of people singing the songs?
Yes! In 2003 we started adding mp3 and wma files to this site. These files are CD quality.
Can I put your recordings on a CD or DVD to listen to later?
Absolutely. Unlike most of the mp3 and wma files you find on the internet, our files are completely legal. You can download them, share them with your friends, and burn them to a CD or DVD. They are freely available for nonprofit use.
Do you give concerts?
Not really. Contributors to this site have given a number of concerts in Texas prisons.
How do you make these midi files?
I used Cakewalk 3.0 to
create the early midi files. These recordings are created completely with a mouse.
I can't play a keyboard very well. You might notice that some of the midi files
sound better than others. The early ones were not very good, but I learned a
little from each one and they improved. Of the midi files created exclusively
with Cakewalk, I am most happy with Create In Me A Clean Heart and
In October 1996 I was getting so far behind Gilberto in converting songs to midi
that it looked like I would never catch up, so I started using
Band In A Box to assist
in creating the midi files. This is great software! You just input the melody
and chords then select the style of music you want, and the program generates the
midi in that style. You can experiment with different styles until you get the
right sound. Most of the midi files in this site were created using "Band In A Box",
with some cleanup in Cakewalk. I have also used some third party BIAB styles
created by Norton Music. They are excellent.
Many of the midi files on this site were created by Rhesa Siregar. Rhesa uses a keyboard to create the individual tracks and he is really good. If you would like Rhesa to create a midi file for you... see this page for details.
Are there any SATB choral or piano scores?
We have now started featuring SATB choral arrangements of some songs. Please see
All Of My Heart,
As I Gaze At The Stars,
Behold A Miracle,
Face To Face,
God Has Touched Me,
God's Love Makes Me New,
He Brings The Sunshine,
I Thank You Lord,
I'll Turn To You,
In The Pages of the Bible,
Jesus Calls Us,
Jesus Is The Light,
Our Song Of Victory,
Reach Out In Love,
Sent From The Heart Of God,
The Rain Is Falling,
You Are Worthy and
You Opened My Eyes.
We have some keyboard arrangements. If you play the piano or keyboard, be sure and see
Behold A Miracle,
Born To Be Our King,
I Love You Jesus,
Shout For Joy To The Lord
Who Has Believed? and
You're At Peace In His Love.
Can I order CD's and songbooks through the mail?
Yes. We have three types of material currently available through the mail: songbooks, which is a compilation of the music scores from this site. Playbooks, which contain the script and music scores for the plays. And
music CD's. See the Ordering Information page.
All of these materials are provided at a minimal cost, and can be ordered at no cost if you are unable to pay.
I have something to contribute. What do I do?
It depends of what it is. If it is a poem, just send it in email and I will look at it. It may or may not be appropriate for the site. If it is really good, one of us will write music to accompany it, I will create a midi file of the song, and I will put it on the site.
If it is a melody or complete song, it will have to be in a form I can hear. We have used midi and Realaudio to transmit melodies through the internet while composing. We have sometimes sent audio tapes of half finished songs through the mail, but I prefer using the internet to transmit things.
I have recently started adding choral arrangements of selected songs. If you have expertise in this area and would like to arrange other songs on this site for choir, please contact me.
Many people from around the world have sent me translations of these songs into their native languages. This outpouring by people in other lands is very encouraging for the songwriters. If you speak another language and would like to sing these songs in your church, please feel free to join in.
If your group makes a recording of one of our songs, please consider allowing me to place it online in MP3 format.
Is Songs of Praise associated with the BBC television program of the same name?
No, this site is not associated in any way. Maybe someday the queen will get confused and invite us to come visit the palace. ;-)
Why won't the music scores print?
Originally these were provided as GIF files. This worked, but the print quality was not very good.
So, in 2003 I started displaying the music scores as PDF files. These print very well. If you are having
trouble printing PDF, you need to get the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Visit the Adobe web site to download this browser plug in.
Please feel free to print and make copies of our music scores for non-commercial use.
Some of the songs don't have a music score. How do I get one?
I have created music scores for many of the songs on this site, but not all of them.
Contact me if there is a no score for the song you want to sing.
Why do you write these songs? How do you write these songs?
I can't speak for the motivation of the other contributors, but I get a lot of satisfaction out of writing a new song. It's just plain fun! We use some of the songs in church worship and sometimes I write a song with the congregation in mind. We have also used these songs in our prison concerts. The solo songs tend to have been written for use in our concerts (I think they would also be adaptable to popular radio). Each song has a little history behind it. I have tried to provide some information on the song pages when there was an unusual situation that led to a song.
The songs tend to be written in 3 different ways. Sometimes the words are first. This was Gilberto's favorite mode. He would find a Bible passage and arrange it as prose (or sometimes use it verbatim). Then he would build the music around the words. Another way, of course, is the reverse. The melody can be written first and then the words added. Most of my collaborations with Larry Holder have been this way. He says that the melody is trying to tell him something and he just digs a little to figure out what it is. There is one more method we have used. One person will write a section (words and music) and another person will write another section.
If you want more information, please read an article by Larry and Elton about songwriting collaboration on the internet
Do you know where I can find the lyrics/chords/music score for a song not on this site?
I get several of these questions a week. Please believe me, I don't know any more about popular music than you do.
Please look in my links page for sites that might answer your question.
Also, do a search on Yahoo for the name of the song or artist and see what you find.
If you are looking for an older, public domain song, look in the The Cyber Hymnal.
If you want sheet music for copyrighted songs, please see Sheet Music Plus
Can I download the lyrics / midi files without visiting each song page?
Please feel free to download the following files to your computer:
A MS Word file you can use to print transparencies for the songs.
Several zip files containing midi:
Zip file 1 midi for songs by Gilberto and others
Zip file 2 midi for early songs by Elton and others
Zip file 3 midi for later songs by Elton and others
Zip file 4 midi for songs written by other people
Do you have any karaoke files?
Many thanks to Johan Komrij and Ralph Merrifield for creating a page of karaoke file for this site.
Over 400 songs in 17 languages. Four musicals. Over 700 images.
Everything is freely available for non-profit use.