Introducing Omega Hymnal

I’d like to announce the availability of a new program that I’ve been writing, Omega Hymnal. Omega Hymnal is a lyrics display program for informal worship settings.

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Some history…

A few years ago we hosted a small Bible study group in our house. Like most gatherings of Christians, the event included a time of musical praise & worship. This was pretty easy to do without words available as long as everyone present had been around the Church long enough to know an adequate number of songs and hymns; but as the group grew, it became obvious we needed to provide words for the songs. Time for song sheets?

Ah, the dreaded home fellowship song sheet. You put a couple dozen songs that cover a range of moods and spiritual topics on 4-5 sheets of paper, make enough copies to go around, and figure you’ve got this problem licked… until someone wants to sing something not on the song sheet. And again, and again. So now it’s time for the addendum to the home fellowship song sheet, which is that extra page with those other songs people wanted to sing, hastily pasted together and stapled to the back of the booklet. As time goes by, you have to do this again, and again, until you’ve got 12 double-sided pages with songs all out of order; one of them is missing a page, one of them the printer ran out of ink, there’s two versions of “Amazing Grace”, etc. etc. You kill a small forest and end up spending more time flipping through pages than lifting up praises.

I wanted to avoid this, so I turned to technology. Since I’d just bought a nice big TV with a VGA input, it seemed a great idea to put some words up on it. I tried to get Lyricue to work with it, but it didn’t like my video card and was just way more complexity than I needed. So one weekend I wrote my own little web app to put words on the screen using PHP and MySQL.

It worked great! No wasted paper, no time flipping pages. As long as someone could man the keyboard to move to the next page at the right time, we’re good.

Rewrite time

My program worked well, but now I figure other people might want to use something like this. The problem is, setting up a web server with PHP and a MySQL database is rather a deterrent, and really probably unnecessary. Enter Omega Hymnal.

Omega Hymnal is a rewrite of my browser-based lyrics display program; it’s also web-based, but is written using Python, Flask, and SQLite, so there’s no need for messing around with web servers or database servers. Just run the python script and pull it up in a browser!

Omega Hymnal

Omega Hymnal can be downloaded from its GitHub project page and run on any platform where Python and Flask have been installed. It still needs a good amount of spit-n-polish, but there’s a nice bullet-list of features so far:

  • Display text is auto-resized to maximize screen coverage
  • Lyrics can be broken into multiple pages
  • Add/Edit/Delete your own songs
  • Optionally display guitar chords above the lyrics
  • Songs can be categorized or tagged with keywords
  • Import/Export songs for backup/exchange
  • Run for local use or as a server for multiple devices to access

A basic set of features, certainly; but this is just a beginning.

Feedback and contributions requested!

One of the hardest things about making easy-to-use software is being too familiar with it. So, if you might be able to use this software, please download it and give it a try. It only has a few songs distributed with it by default (which are, by legal necessity, only public domain hymns), but try adding in your own. Let me know how it goes!

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