- You do not need to obtain a performance license to play, sing, perform, or present music in your congregational worship service in your church. This is allowed by the religious exemption clause in the USA copyright law. It is important to understand that this exemption covers only your congregational worship service in your church. It does not cover copying, broadcasting, telecasting, webcasting, recording, or any other use of the music. These uses may be covered by obtaining permissions from the copyright holder or obtaining one of numerous other types of licenses.
- The following activities commonly engaged in by churches are not covered by the religious exemption clause or by CCLI or other music licenses. For any of these activities, the church must obtain permission from the copyright holder of the music to be used or performed (live or recorded) or obtain a performance license:
- Summer camps (including talent shows, campfires, group singing, worship)
- Picnics & BBQs
- Vacation Bible School
- Carnivals and festivals
- Church dinners and banquets
- Special programs outside of worship services
- Youth events and meetings
- Conferences, festivals, convocations
- Daycare programs
- Coffee houses
- Normally, performance licenses for music in the above settings can be obtained from ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI for the music that each one of those organizations covers. If the music you want to use is handled by more than one of these organizations, then you will need a performance license from each company involved.
- Private companies are beginning to emerge that will handle these copyright and licensing tasks for churches for a fee, much as CCLI, LicenSing, and OneLicense.net provide similar services for the copying and projection of hymn and song lyrics for use by churches in bulletins and worship. One such company is Christian Copyright Solutions, www.copyrightsolver.com through its PERFORMmusic License There are other companies, as well.
- Copyright and licensing issues have become complex and challenging for churches. It requires dedicated time, research, and follow-up to remain legal in ministry today. And we must be aware that copyright laws exist, not for the benefit of churches, but solely for the financial benefit of the copyright owner.
For more information:
- Performance Licenses for churches
- White Paper: Top 5 Myths of Performance Rights
- Resources for Copyright and Licensing on the Discipleship Ministries Website
Contact Us for Help
You do not need to obtain a performance license to play, sing, perform, or present music in your congregational worship service in your church. This is allowed by the religious exemption clause in the USA copyright law. It is important to understand that this exemption covers only your congregational worship service in your church. Contact Us Email us Church Info Center: 888-843-5267 Staff Switchboard: 800-248-1930 Donor Care Line: 888-930-4438 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St.
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Music For Church Hymnals
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The top 25 CCLI songs are publicly available to see what songs churches are singing. However, CCLI only tracks songs under copyright, and does not track the activity of songs in the public domain, most notably the great hymns of the church.
Below is a list of the top 25 hymns sung in church today. To create this list, we combined the sales from a traditional arrangement and a contemporary arrangement of each hymn for the past four years.
1. How Great Thou Art
2. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
3. Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine
4. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
5. Holy, Holy, Holy
6. Jesus Paid It All
7. Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
8. Crown Him with Many Crowns
9. It Is Well with My Soul
10. To God Be the Glory
11. The Solid Rock
12. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
13. I Stand Amazed in the Presence
14. Victory in Jesus
15. Nothing but the Blood
16. Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound
17. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
18. At the Cross
19. Revive Us Again
20. Be Thou My Vision
21. Because He Lives
22. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
23. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
24. O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing
25. America, the Beautiful
“How Great Thou Art” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” are still under copyright, so CCLI tracks them and they rank #26 and #53 respectively on their list of all copyrighted songs sung in church.
Hymnals For Church
So what do you think of this list?