HTML Hymns: ebooks for Online and Offline use

Contact me

Other programs

Hymn Lyrics Cross Refrence is a web program for cross-referencing hymns from various languages that are used in various books. It supersedes the Windows program HFMultiIndex which is also available here.

Hymnbooks is a program for viewing and searching various hymnbook texts on various mobile devices or using the Google Chrome browser.

Hymn Finder is a Windows program for viewing and searching various hymnbook texts.

Hymns OandN is an Android application, which can only be used when online.

Technical explanation and justification

Desktop and laptop computers have programs, but they need to be separately developed for different operating systems, and sometimes different versions of an operating system. Mobile devices (phones & tablets) call their programs "apps", but they similarly need to be separately developed for various different devices and versions of operating systems. But there are standards for browsers that are implemented on most of the computers and devices, which helps overcome the multitude of different versions of things. The HTML5 standard, already partially implemented on many devices and computers, includes features that makes it possible to develop web applications that can be accessed online or stored locally, and behave the same way in either case, given sufficient bandwidth and/or storage. The ebook applications here can be stored offline, automatically, by your sufficiently capable web browser.

There are many other solutions to ebooks on different platforms. Standardized ebook formats can work on a variety of platforms on which viewers are available, but have limited feature sets. Custom programs or apps can be written for particular platforms, but the development costs (time and/or money) often preclude support for all platforms, and differences among platforms can make it difficult to adjust a program designed for one platform to work on other platforms. A variety of other formats are available: see "Other formats" tab and "offline features" for particular books. Some other programs also exist: The ones I'm aware of can be found by following the link under the gear icon at the top right.

Online access

To experiment with and experience HTML Hymns ebooks, start with the online version. Use the online version to determine if the ebook works on your browser (if it doesn't, there may be a newer or alternative browser available for your device or computer which will work).

If music images are available, determine which image format or formats work well on your device or computer... PNG is nearly universal, but if PDF or TIF work for you, they are half the size... that might be an incentive to find ways to make them work. DJVU is only a quarter the size of PNG, an even better incentive to find a DJVU viewer. JPG is also nearly universal, but the quality suffers for this type of usage, and the files are twice as big as PNG. The “Tips” tab discusses some helper applications.

If audio formats are available, determine which audio format or formats work well on your device or computer. MIDI is tiny, but is limited to synthesized generation of music, MP3 is hundreds of times larger than MIDI, but handles recordings of real people as well as synthesized recordings, so finding a way to make MIDI work can be very effective at saving space. The "built in" MIDI player is limited: it works reasonably well on desktop computers and tablets and devices with sufficient memory and CPU power, but may stall or stutter on devices with insufficient memory and CPU power. You can download the MIDI files to an external player for better playback experience, by using a player designed for your particular device. Access to MIDI devices from the browser may become more standard in the future and improve this situation.

How to use the ebooks

While an attempt has been made to make the ebook functionality obvious, a few tips might be in order. Feel free to suggest others, or ask questions, using the contact me link under the gear at the top right.

Technical documentation for creating new ebooks

All of the ebooks on this site are derived from a single file format, called the Bookmaster format. Creation of a new ebook starts with the creation of the Bookmaster file for the ebook, which organizes the text of the book in a sufficient manner to be able to generate the ebook formats. The details of the Bookmaster format are documented here.


Explore the online book thoroughly before considering the options for downloading an offline book. Determine what image and audio formats work well with your device, as described in the "Online" tab.

It is recommended that you save a bookmark (a.k.a. favorite) for each offline book you reference, so that you can use it to find the book again, rather than memorizing the URL. Browsers vary in their interfaces to delete application caches from local storage, but to add, update, or reference it, just use the URL (all of which are listed under the various "offline features" links, for this collection of books).

To use a book offline, you first have to stay online long enough for your browser to download your selected book, hopefully using a low-cost, or unmetered, technique for accessing the internet. Some browsers will show download progress on a "console window" usually found in a development tools menu. Depending on the browser, the caching may need to be completed in one session to be successful.

These preconfigured offline books may have updates from time to time for corrections or additional information. The updates are automatically obtained when you are online, and access the saved URL for the offline book. If there is an update, and you stay online long enough to obtain it, then you will be prompted to reload the book again when it is ready.

All the books on this site, or forthcoming, will include words only versions of the book, along with various indexes and search capabilities, depending on the data that is available. This may suffice for your needs, and if so, you need only the "basic book" for offline use. At times when you are online, though, you will be able to access any other available features as well.

Some books may contain one or more formats of music images. Each of these is available as a bundle with the basic book. There is no need for multiple image formats of the same hymn to be downloaded for offline use. Use the online version to figure out what image formats you can deal with, and then select one of those for downloading. Generally, pick the smallest that works well for your on your computer or device. The sizes, from smallest to largest are: .djvu, .tif, .pdf, .png, .jpg. The smallest that is universally supported is .png.

Some books may have additional features, for example, MIDI or MP3 audio. MIDI is quite small, MP3 quite large. I don't expect CD quality audio to ever be available in this format, due to the size. The internal MIDI player is larger in size than the typical collection of MIDI files for a whole book, so unless you cannot find a convenient external player, you may not wish to include it. MP3 audio playback is unlikely to be available for many books, unless it is contributed, as it was for the English "Hymns Old and New 1987".

Your browser may have limits on how much it will store offline for a single site. This may be an inflexible limit, or it may be flexible. It may require you to change a setting, or it may ask you for confirmation that this is something you want to allow. Browsers vary in this regard.

Once a book is downloaded successfully, if you are online when you use it, it will check for updates, which are also automatically downloaded, if given sufficient online access.

Other formats

In transition I'm transitioning my ebooks to updated technology, and also this updated web site. During the transition, not all files in all formats are yet updated, nor yet even found here. Older format files can be found here.

Various other formats may be useful on devices with limited or customized capabilities, to take advantage of the available programming on those devices. In general, if the device has a web broswer that can handle the HTML Hymns format, that is recommended, and most capable. Other available options for each book can be found under the "offline features" link for each book. Not all books are available in all formats, but if a particular format you need is missing, it may or may not be possible to create that format.

Some formats (all but .txt) allow linking to external web sites. For some books, music image files and/or recordings are available. For those books, for formats that allow linking, links are included to online versions of those resources. So the words-only part can be used offline, and if the internet is available, the other resources can be accessed that way.

None of these formats have provision for automatic updates, but all contain the version number of the book, which can be compared to the online version. If the online version is newer, you can manually download the newer version of any of these files.

A brief description of the various available formats follows:

Other custom applications

Hymnbooks is a program for viewing and searching various hymnbook texts on various mobile devices or using the Google Chrome browser.

Hymn Finder is a Windows program for viewing and searching various hymnbook texts.

Multi-Index is a Windows program for cross-referencing hymns from various languages that are used in various books.

Hymns OandN is an Android application, which can only be used when online.

Unlisted programs

If you are aware of other supported programs for hymnbooks that support Hymns Old and New, please let me know, using the "Contact me" link under the gear icon at upper right: I would like to list them and link to where they can be obtained. There are a variety of older, no longer supported programs of which I am aware, but have not listed.

Platform tips

Suggestions for various platforms and applications are welcome. Use the contact me link under the gear at the top right.

Cross-platform tips

Android tips

Helper applications
Chrome and Opera

BlackBerry 10 PlayBook tips

Helper applications

iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod) tips

Helper applications

Mac OS/X tips

Helper applications

Windows tips

Helper applications
Internet Explorer

Windows Phone tips

Helper applications

Latest announcements

29 July 2015
  • For German ebook, fix inconsistent spelling for ck and kk hyphenation to new style, always ck, hyphen before, instead of between.
28 July 2015
  • Fix tune for #2 in Graces ebook.
27 July 2015
  • Updated translations in French ebook.
  • Added music images to the Graces ebook.
20 July 2015
  • Added a newly discovered Grace to Table Graces, for a total of 65.
12 July 2015
  • Updated the Romanian ebook with new translations for operational phrases.
30 June 2015
  • Bumped version number and uploaded new version of Hymns Old and New 1987, because I'd done things in the wrong sequence yesterday.
29 June 2015
  • Fixed .txt format indexes, and a race condition in MIDI play console logging.
  • Fixed tune name in 291, hyphenation in 308a, expanded all musical repeats in the music image files, and uploaded new version of Hymns Old and New 1987.
28 June 2015
  • Fixed bug which omitted Chorus texts in various places.
  • Fixed bug which gave errors at startup if the "Line Height" setting was set.
  • Fixed bug which gave errors when attempting to toggle the display of particular verses or choruses, when using Chrome or Edge.
  • Reduced index in Graces to titles only, since all the titles are redundant with the first lines.
  • Fixed improper capitalization in German language Tune name Allein auf dem Berge in the metadata for number 291 in Hymns Old and New New 1987, number 108 in Sanger Gamle og nye 1991, and number 193 in Sanger Gamla och Nya 1992.
  • Removed improper tune name from metadata for number 74 in Sanger Gamle og nye 1991.
  • Updated and uploaded the following books with above bug fixes: Hymns Old and New 1987, Graces.Table Graces, Tagalog.1998, Cantiques, The Hymns and Poems of Elma Wiebe, Hymns Old and New 1951, Poems - Hymns and Words of Wisdom 2009, Hymns by John Sterling and Barbara Coles Russell 2008, A Few Hymns and Poems (by Ken Paginton), Alte Und Neue Lieder 1993, A Collection of Hymns, Songs and Poems (by May Carroll Schulz), Nyanyian Rohani Lama & Baru 1996, Cântări vechi şi noi 2013, and Hymns by Sam Jones 2012.
19 June 2015
  • Updated German ebook with better translations. Still a work in progress.
7 June 2015
  • Updated and uploaded English Table Graces, which I missed on 4 June 2015 when I fixed the others.
  • Updated and uploaded Tagalog 1998 ebook. It still needs some translation work, but most things are translated now.
  • Uploaded Cantiques, which I had updated yesterday. Added image files of the music. Still needs some translations, but better than the old version.
6 June 2015
  • Updated and uploaded Nyanyian Rohani Lama & Baru 1996, complete with music borrowed from Hymns Old and New 1987. If only it had translations...
4 June 2015
  • Fixed a bug preventing wildcard searches (that include "*" in the search text) from working properly.
  • Uploaded fixed versions of all the English-language ebooks, since they all suffered from this recent bug.
30 May 2015
  • Uploaded Hymns and Poems by Elma Wiebe.
  • Added 500ms timeout before initialization to allow splash screen to display briefly in browsers that wait for all activity to cease before showing anything.
  • Updated Table Graces with music, and uploaded new version.
  • Updated and uploaded Hymns by John Sterling and Barbara Coles Russell 2008.
  • Added Ken Paginton's Poems and Graces to his Hymns (which he had published all together in one book). Updated and uploaded the new version A Few Hymns and Poems.
  • Added May Carroll Schulz's Poems to her Hymns (which her children had published all together in one book). Updated and uploaded the new version A Collection of Hymns, Songs and Poems.
  • Added MIDI files to Hymns by Sam Jones, updated and uploaded the new version.
  • Updated and uploaded Poems - Hymns and Words of Wisdom.
28 May 2015
  • Added support for up to 4 levels of indentation of poetic lines.
  • Added option to avoid meter generation for an item: _nometer.
  • Combined Elma Wiebe hymns and poems ebooks.
27 May 2015
  • Released Hymns Old and New 1987 using the latest features.
  • Released Hymns Old and New 1951 using the latest features.
  • Fixed font names, which had gotten broken by translation features.
  • Added "Dyslexic" as a valid font name for any device, which uses a font that is customized for people having dyslexia. While few formal studies have been done, and using such a font is not a cure for dyslexia, anecdotal reports are positive.
26 May 2015
  • Released Hymns Old and New 1987 using the latest features.
  • Released Hymns Old and New 1951 using the latest features.
  • Added support for generating an index-only PDF file.
15 May 2015
  • Add wordlist feature, reworked internals of GBook extensively to simplify them (index display and generation, particularly). Added partial matches to word search. Expanded search features for languages that use diacriticals.
  • Added feature to allow the interface language to be changed from the language of the book, to English, or to any other languages that someone may supply.
  • Made some corrections to the authors and composers lists, to have more consistent spelling, allowing better grouping in the indexes.
  • Enhanced the format of the .txt, .pdf, .epub, .mobi, theWord, MySword, and Evernote offline formats. Except for .txt, they all include links to additional online resources, if such is available for the book.
  • Reworked web site to include other ebook formats, to make one site with everything hosted here, and easier organization than the big chart on the old page, which now redirects here. Have links to other formats not hosted here, and to other formats and programs not generated from the Book Master format.
  • Reworked media collection organizational structure to make it easier to share media among multiple ebooks. Sadly this means that users that have created offline installations will have them updated with the same data in a different location using more bandwidth, and, temporarily more storage.
  • Reworked master file format to make it easier to update, especially translations.
  • Added a feature to export text to Song Printer for Windows format.
9 February 2015
  • Added Hymns Old and New 1951, which includes the West Coast Leaflet.
  • Tried Dyslexie font. It must be installed separately, due to licensing requirements. I've no clue how to add fonts to mobile devices, or if they even allow adding fonts. On Windows, it was easy enough, but the font is different enough from other fonts that it requires a larger line-height, and that is one of the items that they claim makes it easier to read. So I added a configurable line-height setting.
  • Add thematic settings: line height, font selection, colors.
  • Added many new words display options under the gear option in the book programs. Some of them need additional operational terms translated from English.
  • Added new search options: allow * before and after a search word to indicate missing letters on either end.
  • Added language-configurable internal controls to affect how diacritical marks are treated during searches.
9 January 2015
Addition of a Help page facility in the gbook program, for future gbooks. Contributions of translated help texts are welcome.
4 January 2015
Addition of words-only books in Bahasa Indonesia (needs translations), Hymns of Elma Wiebe, and chiCheŵa (needs translations)
1 January 2015
Addition of words-only books in Bemba (needs translations), chiShona (needs translations), isiXhosa (needs translations), isiZulu (needs translations), Kiswahili (needs translations), and Tiếng Việt (needs translations). Also added 2 books of poems in English (Words of Wisdom, Wiebe).
31 December 2014
Addition of words-only books in česky (needs translations), русский язык (needs translations), Cebuano (needs translations), Ilocano (needs translations), latviešu valoda (needs translations), español Himnos Inspirados, 圣歌 (needs translations and better font selection), and several additional books in English (Sterling/Coles, Paginton, Schulz, Jones).
30 December 2014
Updated Deutsch and Português books to improve translations of the GBook.
29 December 2014
Addition of words-only books in English, Afrikaans, Bahasa Indonesia Graces (needs translations), dansk, Deutsch, español Himnos, español Gracias, español Suplemento, français, Norsk, Português, svenska, and Tagalog (needs translations).
9 December 2014
Debut of this site, with one book available.

Ideas, plans, and contributions

Books appear here as I have time to add them, and as the data becomes available. Accurate and detailed information is sometimes difficult or time-consuming to obtain, particularly for languages in which I am not fluent, which is all of them, except for English, and computer languages.

Contributions of ideas are welcome, which includes new types of useful features for ebooks, improvements to the way the ebooks work, and improvements to this web site.

Contributions of information are welcome, which includes the Unicode texts of books; translated, customized, or improved help texts, SVG, PDF, or scanned images of music for books; index generation; starting pitch charts; MIDI files; audio recordings; and other things that could be included in an ebook.

Contributions of labor are welcome, which includes translations of documentation into other languages, translations of ebook internals to the native language, reformatting texts to a standardized format (documentation and examples are available), editing music scans graphically to make them more practical for use in an ebook, retypesetting music to create better images than scans, audio editing, programming help, and skilled labor of types I haven't imagined.

Right now, the English Hymns Old and New 1987 edition is the "showpiece" of all the ebooks, containing every feature that I've had time to implement. It would be nice to enhance the other books to include more of the same features found in that book.

One feature I haven't had time to implement yet is playlists. I have some implementation ideas, and search results and index groupings can be used as playlists, but it would be tricky or impossible to craft a search that would result in exactly the items desired for a playlist.

Another set of features that might be nice is MIDI related. Transposition and tempo changes during playback could be handy for educational purposes. Also useful would be extracting the first soprano note as the pitch note, or the ability to just play that one note.

One feature I'm presently working on is the interlinear display of multiple languages which could be useful for educational purposes in environments where a large subset of the same items are available in multiple languages.