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Spanish Language Hymnals in

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About a year ago, I bumped into Brian Hehn, director of the Center for Congregational Song. We’ve known each other for a while, and it was very nice to chat again. Or rather, true to form, I talked his ear off about the work I had been doing in At the end of my monologue, he suggested that this work might be of interest to the Puentes community, and pointed me toward Dr. Monteiro. I am thrilled that she agreed to a blog post on the topic of Spanish-language hymnals in

I have always been intrigued by languages and hymnody, and consider the opportunity to contribute to as one of the most meaningful of my career. As Director of Research for The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada from 2008 to 2014, I had the great privilege of witnessing the merger of The Hymn Society’s Dictionary of North American Hymnology (DNAH) with Since then, I’ve kept busy adding hymnals, proofing existing records, and adding page scans as public domain rules allow. To be clear, lots and lots of people have done the same, each with their own areas of expertise, making a wonderful tool for congregational musicians and researchers alike.

A little history might be useful here, since a lot has been in motion for a very long time. The DNAH is a decades-old project of The Hymn Society that had as its goal to index all hymnals printed in North America. Begun in 1952, the work was envisioned as an American revision of John Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology, first published at London in 1892 with an appendix of North American hymns added in 1907. However, American scholars felt that the body of North American hymns had grown large enough to merit a separate dictionary of its own.

The DNAH eventually capped its work, stopping with hymnals published before 1978, with over one million hymns from 4,875 collections, indexed by first line, author/translator/adapter, refrain, and title. Hymnals were indexed by denomination, title, compiler/editor, and place, publisher, and year of publication. Over the years, the database migrated from index cards to microfilm to CD-ROM before becoming a part of in 2009. Some of the hymnals in the DNAH have since been supplemented with tune data (tune name, meter, incipit, composer/arranger/adapter, and other sources) and scans, although much remains to be done.

In, I have worked on over 150 publications, sometimes proofing, sometimes adding data and scans, and supplementing tune records along the way. At first, I worked on English-language hymnals, but then gradually drifted toward other languages, from French to Hebrew, because I’ve long enjoyed studying them. I grew up in a semi-bicultural household in the United States; my mother was from Germany, and while she spoke German with her relatives, she did not speak it with me. Eventually, though, I did have to communicate in German with family. My accent was pretty good since I’d grown up listening to her, but my vocabulary definitely needed some work! That experience launched my interest in languages, and I studied as many as I could in high school and college.

Back to hymnals! Because I am in the United States, it became clear that Spanish-language hymnals would be of particular interest to users. Several titles had already been entered as part of the DNAH and just needed to be proofed, because accents and tildes were often lost in migrations from one technological format to another. All of them needed tune data and, ideally, scans whenever possible. I’ve worked on forty-nine Spanish-language hymnals, and am in the middle of the fiftieth. Other Hymnary volunteers have contributed information as well, and together, a more comprehensive picture of Spanish-language hymnody has come together in

As of today, there are seventy-three Spanish-language (sometimes bilingual) hymnals in The oldest hymnal is Himnos para el Uso de las Congregaciones Españolas de la Iglesia Protestante Metodista (1842); a total of six date from the nineteenth century. Over thirty of them have been scanned into, and a few have links to scans that are available at Of course, hymns protected by copyright usually can’t be displayed, although users can view hymns copyrighted by Hope Publishing, with some restrictions.

If you need to see a hymn or hymnal that hasn’t been scanned, remember that libraries can help you out. has a great feature on the site of every hymnal that allows you to “find this hymnal in a library,” which guides you to, the largest catalog in the world. From there, you can see who owns the hymnal in question. Your nearest librarian can help you figure out how to request scans or a physical copy through interlibrary loan.

It is my hope that by providing this information in, the work of Spanish-speaking authors, composers, translators, adapters, and arrangers will be collated in a useful way for both congregational musicians and researchers.

The question then becomes, what is missing? I’d love to hear from you, so that we can make greater progress in providing information about more Spanish-language hymnals. Or, if you are interested in contributing to yourself, please check out the page on volunteering:





Tina Schneider is the library director at The Ohio State University at Lima. She is a professor with The Ohio State University Libraries and served as director of research for The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada from 2008 to 2014.




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In my youth in Venezuela, we often met at church to sing and play songs of praise in Spanish. We used to sing various coritos like Alabaré, No hay Dios tan grande como, and Una mirada de fe, accompanied by the cuatro, güiro and drum. Later, when I came to the United States to study, I learned English hymns and songs, singing in choir and sometimes playing the guitar. But for a long time, liturgical music in my life was divided between my world in Spanish and my world in English. Every so often we would sing El pescador de hombres at an English service or have a separate Spanish service. But in that period of my life I did not encounter something more unified.

But that separation is beginning to change. Little by little we are developing more opportunities to have bilingual and multicultural liturgical music that offers us the possibility of worshiping God together as one whole body of Christ. When I realized that God was calling me to ministry in bilingual churches, I began to reach out to several people across the United States working in the area of bilingual liturgical music. In my first year at Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Martin Tel introduced me to the hymnal Santo, Santo, Santo/ Holy, Holy, Holy: Cantos para el pueblo de Dios/Songs for the People of God, published in 2019. Despite having a pandemic in the midst of this work I have found the hymnal extremely useful in offering a variety of liturgical music in both virtual and in in-person settings.

The development of a bilingual service is not something that can be produced without reflection and is really a labor of ministry that happens with the congregation. I have found the work to be like a road that we are building which requires what Paul describes as the Spirit helping us to produce “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). The act of creating the work of liturgical music really offers us the opportunity to practice what Christ calls us to do in building the reign of God here on earth.

Here are a few things that have helped me in this journey with my congregation:


First: Know your congregation

In order to utilize resources like Holy, Holy, Holy it is important to know the congregation well. For example, recently I had the opportunity to serve as a seminarian in a Presbyterian congregation.  It was important to know that we had members that came from all parts of Latin America, including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Andes. They came from diverse worship traditions and denominations. Some families also had that diversity within their family. Within the congregation there was also a range of levels of education, although the majority were raised Roman Catholic. These variations give us the opportunity to explore the richness of worship music.

Many times, the parents or grandparents spoke primarily Spanish, while the children and grandchildren spoke primarily English. It gave us an opportunity, through music, to create bridges between generations. There were also members of the congregation that were part of the church when it was founded and only spoke English. They brought the institutional memory and a desire to see their church renewed with the spirit of the new immigrants.


Second: Be inclusive of the congregation in the planning, development, and implementation

Sometimes it is easy to simply play the music that you know or that has been sung for some time. But when you make the effort to combine the known with the new it fosters spiritual growth. Especially when the music enables us to connect with other members of our community.

For example, not long ago we had several people in our congregation that had their confirmation. One of those people was originally from Korea. We chose a Korean hymn for the service entitled Ososo, that was available in Holy, Holy, Holy in English as well as in Korean, and that was easily translated into Spanish:

Ven O príncipe de paz, haznos un solo cuerpo

Ven O Señor Jesús, reconcilia a tu pueblo

It was easy to do this song in three languages without losing the power of the Korean music and in a way that enabled the inclusion of all the members of our community in Christ. Liturgical music has the capacity to support our community in a more inclusive way while also connecting us to the universal Church.


Third: Introduce the music in an intentional way

It is important to take your time, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to learn the songs in both languages in a way that is not too rushed. For example, Dios está aquí is a song with a message easily included in liturgical planning and that has good translations in English, while Just as I Am is a classic English hymn with effective translations in Spanish. During the course of a few weeks the hymns can be sung in the Spanish and English services so that when there is a bilingual service all the members of the congregation will recognize the music even when part of it is sung in Spanish and another part in English. If a bilingual service lasts too long, there will be moments when half of the congregation will get lost. But with effective planning and practice it is possible to foster connections and space for the Holy Spirit to move. Here are some options that I have seen in bilingual congregations:

  • A service in both Spanish and English, and another just in English;
  • A service in English and another in Spanish, with a combined service once a month;
  • All the services in both languages.

It is important to have frequent communication, especially when there is something like a change of time or type of service. Remember the goals, have patience, pray often, continue listening, and remain attentive to the spiritual needs of the community. These are just some of the goals in developing liturgical music in a bilingual setting. And if something is not working, it is important that the members of the congregation work together to come up with creative solutions. Connecting with other bilingual congregations can also foster learning and growth. We are not alone in this effort; we are members of the universal Church of Christ, and God is calling us to open our hearts to the many ways of worshiping our Savior.


Tanya Regli Witte de Cedren, MSS/MLSP

Candidate Senior, MDiv,

Princeton Theological Seminary

Postulant, The Episcopal Church of Pennsylvania

Tanya Regli is a MDiv student at Princeton Theological Seminary. Her field education for ministry has been at Nuevas Fronteras Presbyterian Church in Plainsfield, New Jersey, and at St. John’s Church at Diocesan Center in Norristown, Pennsylvania, her current placement. Regli comes from a thirty-year career running non-profits in Philadelphia and Mexico City. Originally from Colombia and Venezuela, she came to the United States for her bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Afterwards she worked with immigrant communities in Boston and later got her master’s in social work and another master’s in law and social policy from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Policy. On completion, Regli ran a microlending organization in Mexico City. Eventually returning to the US to be the executive director of The Arc of Philadelphia, a disability rights organization. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing music, and cooking together. Regli feels passionate about her call to serve in ministry to bilingual communities which greatly enrich the Christian Church.