Worship Folder Content


As some of you may well know, populating a worship/service folder with text and music graphics can sometimes be a demanding job. I don't necessarily mean that it isn't fun, but that the responsibility of checking for typos, finding the proper music graphics, and making sure that all the content is properly licensed and attributed can take quite a bit of time (and money).

I had these things in mind as I began creating the various Worship Folder themes and services. It was important for me to remove as much as I could from the time you would spend formatting the service, in order for you to focus on the most important part: the content. Designing layouts and choosing typography is a delicate art and is something I constantly wrestled with for several months before releasing the templates. But I think all that time and effort really shows itself in the product—when you first start to add the first texts and images, the formatting and layout move out of the way and allow you to concentrate on the things that have the most value to those in the pews or chairs.

But even when doing something as simple as inserting a graphic or pasting text into a document, it is still the responsibility of the church secretary or pastor to do their due diligence when using content that is not theirs, or rather, is not created by them and then printing it for public use. It can be very easy to break the 7th commandment when merely using an image from the internet or copying and pasting words written by someone else. It can also be an issue of the 8th commandment, as Luther says well in his Large Catechism:

"Therefore this commandment is given first of all that every one shall help his neighbor to secure his rights, and not allow them to be hindered or twisted, but shall promote and strictly maintain them, no matter whether he be judge or witness, and let it pertain to whatsoever it will." (Triglot Concordia, 1921)

This, however, is not meant to scare you out of doing a worship folder ever again, but showing the massive amount of responsibility that goes into building one. They are a blessing to have for both the church member and visitor. Thankfully, securing rights to liturgies, music, and art is becoming easier as publishers release more and more digital content and licensing companies like OneLicense and CCLI make the overall process relatively effortless. 

A license is distributed with every product and purchase on Paramentics, and a FAQ page was created to make it as easy as possible to understand what can and cannot be done. I'd like to now give you a brief overview of how to secure digital content and the rights to use them by using the three largest Lutheran church bodies in the United States as examples.


Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)

The WELS publisher, Northwestern Publishing House (NPH), offers digital editions of all the content within their Christian Worship (CW) hymnal and its supplement, Christian Worship: Supplement (CWS). An annual usage fee is required to be payed to NPH for using content from CW. For using content from either CW or CWS, a reprint license fee must be paid to OneLicense. However, not all content is covered by OneLicense and steps must be made to secure the rights to print or display certain songs and content. NPH provides details about what is covered and not covered on their individual product pages that is required to read before ordering.


The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS)

The LCMS publisher, Concordia Publishing House (CPH), releases the digital version of their hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (LSB), and its liturgies through Lutheran Service Builder. The use of this content is provided through Windows software and subscription pricing. A reprint license is obtained through LSB Hymn License that is a separate annual subscription.


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Through the publisher, Augsburg Fortress (AF), an ELCA church may buy digital content from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) and other hymnals. An annual ELW Liturgies License or AF Liturgies License is required to reproduce liturgical content. In order to print hymns, either an annual AF Hymns License or OneLicense is required.


The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH)

For those who still use TLH, keep in mind that this hymnal is still under copyright by CPH and the rights to digitally reproduce and reprint content from it must be acquired. However, some hymns are now public domain and can be reprinted without permission or payment. More details can be found at Copyrights & The Lutheran Hymnal.

I hope you may find some of this information useful. There is plenty more to say about digital content in worship folders, but I'll leave that for another post.


Ian Welch