Organists Online

Free Resources for Organists

Simplified Hymns

Slim Carols and Super Slim Carols

Within the Simplified Hymns page, the Christmas hymns and carols have been supplied with instrumental parts. As these arrangments are in three parts only, rather than the normal four, they are referred to on this site as Slim Carols. Each carol is also available in a two-part arrangement (Super Slim Carols), The second part, in each case is in double or invertiple counterpoint with the melody so any instrument may play the melody in any octave, and any instrument may play the second part in any octave, and the harmony will still make sense.

As some of the simplified accompaniments are available in two keys, instrumental parts are available for both keys.

Return to TOP
Return to HYMN & CAROL list

Slim Carols

The Slim Carols arrangments are 100% compatible with the simplified arrangements on this site.

Within each instrumental group the following downloads are available:

  • Score:
    This presents all the parts so that a rehearsal leader can know what should be played. The scores don't show all the transposing instrument versions of each part.
  • Melody
    Concert Pitch:
    this is for non-transposing instruments such as violin, flute, oboe etc. For some instruments, the melody may lie a little low, or even beyond the range of certain instruments (such as flutes and treble recorders). Players of these instruments will find a part at a suitable pitch under the Melody for solo or unison section.

    Transposing Bb instruments:
    this part is intended for trumpets, cornets, clarinets, soprano saxophones or any Bb transposing instrument which plays in the soprano register, just one tone lower than the written pitch.
  • Middle
    Concert Pitch:
    For all the arrangements, the middle part goes no lower than the G below middle C, so it lies within the range of the violin.

    Transposing Bb instruments:
    As the middle parts go no lower than the G below middle C, they lie within range of Clarinets, trumpets and cornets in Bb.

    Transposing Eb instruments:
    Tenor horns (UK nomenclature) and alto saxophones will find this part useful.

    Horn in F:
    This is self explanatory. If (by any remote chance) a Cor Anglais becomes available, it could play this part.

    Again, self explanatory. An alto trombone could also play from these parts.
Some of the second parts have alternative, diamond shaped notes. These are supplied when, with a low-lying melody, there is no room to add a third to a final chord, leaving the harmony a bit thin. These diamond shaped notes do complete the harmony, but are sound above the melody notes. example of a diamond note
  • Bass
    Concert Pitch:
    This part is intended for cellos, double basses, bassoons, and trombones playing as non-transposing instruments. Occasionally, the bass part goes beyond the conventional range of the double bass and the tenor trombone. For these cases, alternative notes are provided

    Transposing Bb instruments in treble clef:
    Brass players who are acustommed to using the treble clef (tenor trombone, euphonium, etc) will find this part useful.
Apart from being entirely compatible with the simplified hymn arrangements, these three-parts settings function without the presence of the organ or keyboard part, so could be used in contexts other than an indoor carol service.
  • Melody for solo or unison verses
    Solo verses:
    It's likely that, sometimes, only a couple of instruments will be available and these, naturally, will want to play the melody - for which these parts are supplied. Most parts are written in two octaves so that players can choose to be bold or reticent, or to make sure that everyone has something within their instrumentals range.
BASS INSTRUMENTALISTS!!. If playing a melodic part with accompaniment, please resist the temptation to take it down an octave. Doing so could result in strange, inverted harmony.
  • Unison verses:
    Occasionally, as relief from a solid harmonic texture, a verse may be taken purely as a unison melody without accompaniment, everyone playing the tune.
BASS INSTRUMENTALISTS!!. In such circumstances, feel free to play in any octave which suits you.

Please remember that the middle and bass parts are ONLY COMPATIBLE with the simplified carol and hymn arrangments, NOT with standard hymn/carol arrangements.  This is a result of: making sure that good harmony is used at all times, although only three parts are present; keeping the middle part within range of the violin; and making sure that the keyboard arrangement is within the grasp of most players.

The melody parts ARE COMPATIBLE with most, if not all arrangements.

Some carols have an irregular metre (not the same number of syllables in each verse) so, where the extra syllables may be present, small notes are supplied. If they are not needed, just play rests at these places.

Return to TOP
Return to HYMN & CAROL list

Super Slim Carols

As mentioned above, Super Slim Carols are arranged in two parts only; in other words, the carol melody and a free part. The arrangements are such that ANY instrument may play the melody or the second part in ANY octave, and the harmony still obeys the so-called rules. For instance, a double bass could play the melody and a piccolo the second part, or vice versa, and all would still be well.

Here is an electronically generated example of The Angel Gabriel with the melody at the top and the second part as a bass:

Melody at the top

Here is an electronically generated example of The Angel Gabriel with the melody in the bass and the second part at the top:

Melody in the bass
These second parts are NOT COMPATIBLE with the other arrangements on this site, nor with any other arrangement. They ONLY work as an accompaniment to the carol melody without any other parts being played. However, either part may be doubled in as many octaves at you like. There's a richness to be gained in having each part represented at bass, middle, and upper pitches.

These Super Slim arrangements can have two functions:

  • If you are fortunate enough to have an ensemble playing for a carol service, the Super Slim arrangements can be used to give some variety of texture;
  • If an outdoor carol session has been arranged, there's no need to worry that a sufficiently large group of instruments will turn up; whoever you have can play these arrangements.
Some of the second parts have additional diamond notes, particulary for last chords. example of a diamond note It's recommended that, any instrument playing this part for a last verse, and it the lowest pitched in the ensemble,  it takes the diamond note as this is the key-note or tonic of the carol key.

Return to TOP
Return to HYMN & CAROL list


The primary purpose of providing the Slim Carols arrangements is to enable churches of slender means to enhance their carol services with almost any selection of instruments to hand. Somewhere amongst all the options of melody and other parts in various octaves, and allowances for Bb, F, and Eb transposing instruments, most instrumentalists will find something that they can play along with.

For the Slim Carols arrangements, various things come to mind.

  • When accompanied by an organ or piano:
    1. It's not totally essential to have the bass part played;
    2. If all parts are played, some verses could be without keyboard;
    3. An occasional verse of unison melody only provides variety of texture and relief from seemingly endless verses with the same harmony;
    4. Occasionally, an instrument could play the middle part an octave or two higher - giving a quasi descant effect. Doing so may, in rare instances, result in consecutive 5ths, but these will be passed by before most people would notice them;
    5. You could arrange for varied instrumentation for each verses so that a carol seems fully orchestrated.
    6. Remember! that these arrangements are only compatible with the simplified hymn and carol arrangements on this site, not with any others.
  • When used without accompaniment:
    1. All of the above apply, apart from (1) and (2);

For the Super Slim arrangements:


Return to TOP
Return to HYMN & CAROL list