The purpose of this website:
This website provides tunes written to scripture verses of the Holy Bible, completely free of charge. The author selects verses from both the Old and New Testaments that he considers useful or important, and writes simple melodies to fit them. Most of these selections are short verses. An example of a very short verse is “We love, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19) (Score, Play). The author makes no attempt to instill interpretations of the verses selected, although different people may have their own musical interpretations of the melodies.
Intended usage of the tunes:
The intended uses of these tunes include:
1. To help believers memorize scripture verses. The rationale is that tunes are usually easier to memorize than the verses themselves.
2. To provide a low cost way of obtaining songs for small group or congregation usage in Christian communities with limited financial resources.
3. To provide a good selection of songs suitable for teaching young children to learn music.
Translations of the Bible:
Most of the verses are taken without modification from the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible, although there are a few exceptions. It often happens that different translations of the Bible differ so much in the implicit meters, that tunes written to them will need to be very different. The author selected the New International Version because this version was the one used in the church where he first wrote these tunes.
The author, Hon-Fei Lai, is not trained as a musician. Professionally he was a mathematician who learnt the musical scales through an article in a mathematical journal after he became a Christian and joined the choir to serve his Savior, even though at first he did not know how to read music. Gradually he learnt how to read musical scores, and through the years also got the inspiration to write a few songs that he kept to himself.
In the spring of the year 1987, the author was asked by the pastor of his church to be in charge of an hour each Sunday to occupy some young children of the church with some program, so that their parents can attend adult Sunday school. While he was thinking hard on what he can do in that hour, in the evening of Good Friday that year, he was eating dinner before he went to the Good Friday service, and was staring at a plaque at home that has the following verse inscribed: “As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) (Score, Play). Suddenly a tune came into his mind, and he quickly wrote it down in simplified musical notation. In the next few days, the Lord was gracious enough to give him a few more melodies that are essentially going up and down the musical scale, including the songs “Words of Eternal Life” (John 6:68) (Score, Play) and “He Gives Us the Victory” (I Cor. 15:57) (Score, Play) in this website. This gave him the idea of using the hour to teach those children how to sing, starting from the musical scale. From that time on, for the next one and a half years, the Lord gave him more than seventy melodies, and he did not run out of songs to teach the children until the program ended naturally for some unrelated reasons. Some of these tunes were especially suitable for very young children because of their simplicity. Examples are “Let There Be Light” (Gen. 1:3) (Score, Play) and “The Lord Is My Shepherd” (Psalms 23:1) (Score, Play).
After these one and a half years, the author did not have much need of writing new songs, but once in a while wrote songs for the church for special occasions. As the years go by, he felt the desire to share these songs with others, hopefully bringing blessings to some people. After his retirement, he finally got time to put them together and to share with the world through the internet. Because he feels that these songs were given to him by God completely freely, he feels strongly that he should not profit from them. So these songs are provided free of charge to anyone
who does not use them for profit.(The struck out portion was disabled on Dec. 2, 2019) The only condition is that you recognize his authorship, and do not change the words except translating the scripture verses into another existing human language. For special situations, authorization may be granted on a case by case basis. Please request by email.
The author is aware of other authors who also wrote tunes to scriptural verses, but thinks that he is one of the few to provide them free of charge.
The author finds that his mathematical background puts him at an advantage in writing tunes to fit scripture verses, for he can recognize patterns (the meters of the tunes) where none is obvious, and can do so much more easily than many other people. Some people claim that mathematics is closely related to music, and the author is interested in confirming its validity.
The author is handicapped by the lack of training in harmony. A friend who is a professor in the theory of harmony was kind enough to provide the harmony for 15 of the tunes, but prefers to remain anonymous. More of the tunes in this website will be harmonized if there is the chance. The author thanks him for the partnership in this ministry. The other songs are presented only with the melody.
Since the author started the work to cater to children raised up in the United States, English is the language of choice. But because his mother tongue is Chinese, at first he tried to write many of the tunes to fit both the NIV version in English and the Union version in Chinese at the same time. The Chinese section has already been constructed in this website, in both the traditional and the simplified forms.
In a few songs, the English and Chinese words differ so much that it is impossible to write tunes fitting both at the same time, so only one language is selected. This happens to Eccl. 12:1 (Score, Play), for which a tune was written to the English version, and a rearrangement of the Chinese words was made to fit the music. The verse in Romans 5:8 (“God Shows His Own Love”) (Score, Play) is of special interest, because the two halves of the sentence are in the opposite order in the English and Chinese versions. To be fair, the author wrote the song using the two halves in both orders, so that both the English and Chinese versions have the same ABBA form.
For some verses, the English and Chinese phrases differ in the implicit meters. This can often be solved by introducing running notes which are combined in different ways in the two languages. But in a few songs, the numbers of syllables are significantly different. For example, in Psalms 103:2, the phrase “Praise the Lord, O my soul”, which has 6 syllables in English, happens to have 11 syllables in Chinese, so in the song “Forget Not His Benefits”, this phrase is repeated in the English version (Score, Play).
Because the main subject of each tune is the scripture verse, the tune is kept to a secondary, supporting role. So there is no attempt to make the tunes technically complicated by artificial means. (Actually the author may not have the ability to do so anyway.) This is in line with his background as a mathematician, for mathematicians strive to do things in the simplest possible way, when alternate methods of solution are available.
Because of limitations in the kinds of music that the author has been exposed to, one may find the flavor of the tunes in this website to be quite old fashioned. However, the author does not think that this is out of vogue, for the central messages come from the same old time religion. In general, the tunes resemble traditional hymns. The author does not try to mimic any particular style, but his background unavoidably has some effect on the direction of his inspirations.
It is the wish of the author that this ministry will bring many blessings to different people, so he welcomes any constructive suggestions on the development of these tunes. In particular, the author looks forward to hearing stories that the tunes have brought blessings to someone. He would also welcome suggestions on how to make this ministry more effective.
If any Christian church or organization has the need to use a song written to any bible verse, the author would love to receive the request, and if the Lord is willing to give the inspiration, he will be glad to share those tunes with the world.