Adding Passing Chords To Hymns
In this lesson we will explore how to add passing chords and additional 251 progressions into church hymns and songs found in gospel music.
We will use the church hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and we will enhance the basic harmony with jazzy passing chords.
Step 1 – Identify The Basic Chords
The first step before adding passing chords is to identify the most basic chords of the song which typically include the I, IV, and V chords, sometimes the VI chord also. Here are the basic chords for the hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”:
Notice that the basic chords of this song just include the I, the IV, and the V chords. We are now ready to move onto the next step which is adding additional passing chords into the hymn.
Step 2 – Add Passing Chords Landing On The Basic Chords
We keep the basic chords in the same spot and we approach these chords with 25 progressions to create more interesting harmonic movement. In the below example we add a major 251 progression using the chords C-7 & F7 which are used to approach the change change to Bb:
The easiest way to add passing chords in church hymns is to build additional 25 progressions into the basic chords as outlined in the above example.
Step 3 – Add Extensions & Alterations
The next step is to add chord extensions such as 9s, 11s, and 13s, and chord alterations which create more colourful and interesting flavours on our passing chords. Using the same passing chords as above, we can play an F13b9 chord for the V7 chord to add additional colour:
We also have the option to just add the V7 chord as the passing chord without the ii-7 chord proceeding it. An example of this can be found in bar 3 where we approach the C chord with its V7 chord G7.
Upper Structure Triad Passing Chords
We can also look the F7 voicing as an F7 in the left hand, and a D major triad in the right hand. This is known as an upper structure triad chord voicing. Upper structure triads are usually applied to dominant chords. Incorporating these voicings into your church hymns will make your playing sound much more interesting and sophisticated.
Passing Chord Examples File Type: pdf
What A Friend We Have In Jesus Transcription File Type: pdf
First familiarise yourself with the basic 1-4-5 chords of the tune to identify where we can add passing chord harmony.
We can approach any chord with its V7 chord and also add the related ii-7 chord to create an additional 25 progression before the chord change.
Analyse the scale degrees of the melody notes to find interesting possibilities for extended and altered voicings.
We also have the freedom to change the melody and/or add additional notes to support specific extended and altered chord voicings.