Pastor and Song Leader Having Trouble Finding Chords

We use (among others) the Red Backed Hymnal at church. it has some great songs in it. A young lady has been taking classical music for a few years and she recently started to help me with the music. But she is not far enough along to help me pick out the chords for the songs. At this time she can not transpose to a lower key and we do them in whatever key they are in. Makes it a bit of a hard job with my old voice. I have picked the chords from a number of them, and evidently some of the chords are not right.
My question is a simple one but have had no luck getting an answer. Is there a recourse anywhere that would help me find the right chords?
Thanks for the help, and if not able to help thanks anyway for your passion for music.

Hi, Rick, understanding what chords go with the key that a song is in is not too difficult, but it does take some exposure & training. I have one phrase for you: The Circle of 5ths (also known as the Circle of Keys). By understanding the order of the keys, and what accidentals a key has (or doesn't have) you can almost always decide on good-sounding chords.

I don't have a Circle of 5ths diagram on my website currently, but I do have a piano & guitar diagrams to show you the main chords that go with a key. (Look for "Guitar chord families" in the Music Education Resources part of my website.)

Once you know what chords are being used (the I, the IV, the vi, the V, etc.) then you can change to another key and use the I, Iv, vi, V or whatever chords they were in the NEW key. For example, the song Silent Night in the key of C uses the I (C), V (G), I (C) chords in the first line. If I wanted to move Silent Night down to the key of Ab, well then the chords would be I (Ab), V (Eb), and I (Ab again). It is extremely logical.

See if you can find someone in your church that has been through music training at college - they should understand this well! Alternatively, you can look around the web for music theory courses for free. There are some out there.

Good luck,


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