Grants/Open Lutheran Hymnal

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Open Lutheran Hymnal

Applicants: Jonathan Hadley
Affiliation: None
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Jonathan Hadley
Coordinator: Jonathan Hadley
Project Start: 2010/08/01
Project End: 2010/09/30
Download budget Discussion

Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

Open Lutheran Hymnal is to be a dynamic web portal providing public domain/Creative Commons licensed hymns for Lutherans. It is hoped the project will communicate the ethical and Christian character of media sharing to the 8.6 million professing Lutherans in North America, and the Christian community at large. After developing the necessary software to support the project, the hundreds of public domain hymns available in print will be aggregated, making them available in a variety of musical settings dynamically. In time, it is hoped the project may expand to include openly distributable liturgies, service planning and publication tools, and promote change in church music publication.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

The grant will be used to develop the website and software tools necessary to satisfy the first project goal: A demonstrably functional, dynamic website which will make hymns available in a variety of formats. For example, "Silent Night" might be available as a PDF in 4-voice musical notation, a PNG image for Guitar chords with lyrics, MIDI file to interface with a church organ, or MP3 format for a smaller congregation. (The output files are dynamically created from a single database.)

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

The targeted community is the Lutheran Church, specifically its professional musicians who must navigate the present copyright morass to fulfill their calling. The project will ease their burden and their consciences, as many resort to copyright infringement and recognize it to be necessary theft. It will also relieve financial burdens for those who faithfully follow present law. It is my personal conviction, also, that the present system of church music publication is injurious to Christian fellowship and therefore spiritually harmful. I hope the promotion of copyright awareness and shared music will alleviate church administration and strengthen Christians both within and outside of the Lutheran community. (In 2008, 8.6 million American adults self-identify as Lutheran according to wikipedia; there are tens of thousands of congregations.)br />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

I am a life-long Lutheran, mid-way through my seminary training to be ordained in The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod; I hope to become a hospital chaplain. I have also been a serious musician, and passionate advocate of Free/Open Source technologies and ethos. I am the right man for this job because I recognize the need and have the drive to see it to completion. I consider it a spiritual as well as social imperative to call awareness to this cause and provide a means by which to correct it within my Christian community. I am a competent programmer, and am thoroughly familiar with old and new web technologies, but have not yet undertaken a project of this scope.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

I will measure and evaluate impact primarily by web traffic statistics. I will consider, also, feedback from the community through email and donations. I will solicit and train volunteers for data entry; the number of interested volunteers will be a criteria of quantifiable impact.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

For development, I expect that I will be the only participant. I may solicit input from friends and the open source community at large, but I will be the only significant programmer/maintainer for the duration of the grant disbursement. I and a passionate friend will enter hymn data to populate the database, and I expect a couple more acquaintences will volunteer their time for that, also. After the completion of the phase for which I am requesting a grant, I hope that many people will volunteer data entry time and even contribute musical works to the project.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

The goal of Open Lutheran Hymnal is to promote awareness of Creative Commons' mission. It is hoped that awareness will promote change and passion among church musicians and laypeople to uphold the ideals of that mission within the Christian community and society at large. The project will encourage professional musicians to re-license their copyrighted work to Creative Commons licenses and/or release future work under such a license.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

I intend to develop a relational database to store website and hymn data; a graphical tool to facilitate simple input of the hymn data either through web or stand-alone application; and the software to output hymn data as PostScript/PDF, PNG image, MIDI, and possibly MP3. I expect to utilize MySQL or SQLite, PHP, Python, Lilypond, and possibly FluidSynth, all of which are compatible with the open source software which will be produced. Music would be stored as Lilypond text files, permitting simple rendering as PostScript, PNG, or MIDI. PostScript is easily converted to PDF; MIDI, using a soft-synth, may be rendered to MP3. The graphical input tool is a front-end to manipulate text string in which Lilypond files are encoded. The website is presently hosted on, which is inexpensive and offers great freedom for developers. (If Creative Commons can offer similar hosting options, I will gratefully take up that offer.) I have been researching these technologies for several months, and have only lacked the opportunity to devote significant time to producing a product.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

While I am a competent programmer, I lack the experience professional programmers have acquired. For that reason, I am choosing "friendlier," established tools like PHP and Python, which are well-supported in their communities with a wealth of examples. I am designing for simplicity and sustainability, utilizing tools like Lilypond as it is packaged, rather than unnecessarily customizing (and complicating) a solution. In short, the majority of my project will be to interface the website to the database through PHP, and mechanize Lilypond/text file generation using python. Lilypond files can be created/alterred with a simple text editor, which will ease the burden of graphical input, especially if I utilize Javascript over a stand-alone application.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

I expect that the technologies necessary to sustain the project will be finalized with the grant money, and the only remaining expenses will be the cost to host the site and periodic maintenance. Data entry and contributions will be voluntary. Until the site is successful, hosting costs will be negligible; when the project gains some success, it is hoped that donations will fund the project. Hard-copy publications of the hymns will be made available (retaining Creative Commons licenses, of course) to provide for that need and gain revenue.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

The work I am proposing, and for which I am requested the grant, is only the first step in what should be a scalable project. It is hoped that Open Lutheran Hymnal will become the primary resource of many Lutheran churches, and that the content will expand with that role as new hymns are written specifically to distribute through the site. It is also hoped that other CC-licensed liturgical materials can be distributed.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

I expect no support from Creative Commons beyond the grant, but would be pleased if the project might be featured in an article to spread the word to my Lutheran community and like-minded individuals from other communities who can use my software for their purposes. If Creative Commons were able to host my project while allowing me the freedom my present host offers, that would also be appreciated.

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

I have only communicated my thoughts and hopes with fellow seminarians, some professors, and friends, most of whom are excited about it. Telephone and email will remain my communication with them, but mailing lists or videos from the site will be the means to communicate with the growing community.