Since starting this site at WordPress.com over a year ago, and since transitioning to a self-hosted site earlier this year, my thinking about the structure of the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book has developed dramatically. The goal has remained constant: To provide unlimited free access to high-quality resources devoted to the singing of the great Lutheran chorales in English. How to achieve that goal is another question altogether.
Due largely to the nature of WordPress.com, the site started out pretty much as a blog. Each post was really supposed to function as a permanent page, serving as a gateway to all of the resources associated with a particular hymn, including English and German texts, audio files, and printable PDFs. Post categories served to organize hymns according to the church year and various topics. This design, or lack thereof, proved hopelessly confusing. A casual visit to the site left visitors with no clear idea of what the site was for or how to access materials.
This necessitated a major redesign. A new homepage now served as a launchpad for access to hymn text pages with looped audio to promote singing of all the stanzas. In this way the site began to function more as an online hymnal, particularly when accessed from a mobile device. Other elements were then changed in keeping with the new philosophy. The older blog posts were reimagined as “Hymn Info” pages, with links provided at the bottom of the text pages. Eventually, it became clear that there would have to be distinct pages for tunes. These can now be accessed both through a link under the audio player on the hymn text pages and via the tune indexes in the main menu.
Unfortunately, conceiving of the site as chiefly an online hymnal left the printable resources difficult to find: They were hidden away at the bottom of their hymn text pages. This has been addressed by moving the links to printable materials above the audio player. It had been feared that this would be too obtrusive, particularly when using a mobile device to sing the hymns from their text pages. In practice, however, the printable resources at the top of the page take up very little space. The site still functions nicely as a mobile online hymnal.
That still leaves us with a number of blog posts which remain as nothing but leftovers from an obsolete vision of what the site should be. Eventually the research found in the posts will be transferred to distinct “Text Info” pages, parallel to the existing “Tune Info” pages. This opens up the possibility of using the posting functionality for an actual blog.
Hence the Free Lutheran Chorale-Blog. I plan to publish posts regularly, and I hope for them to function as posts, not as substitute pages. These posts will serve to publicize news related to the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book, draw attention to notable additions to the site, serve as a venue for discussion of problems and philosophies involved in development, and whatever else doesn’t seem to fit in the Chorale-Book proper. Hopefully regular posting will also be a visible testimony to the fact that development on the site is constant and ongoing.
Check back regularly for new posts, and if you’ve been using and benefiting from the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book, thank you!