About Amish Music

The Amish hold worship services every two weeks in their homes or barns. Sunday morning singing is limited to hymns from the Ausbund, a collection of hymns written by early Anabaptists, some published as early as 1564.

The hymns are sung to melodies sung unison. It is hard to determine the origin of the tunes because they are sung slowly, with many passing notes from one syllable to the next. It can take five minutes to sing a single verse. At funerals no hymns are sung, but a preacher usually reads a hymn. Written music is not used during worship. All is learned as oral tradition, and there are slight variations from one part of the country to another region.

Besides their Ausbund hymns, many Amish also sing popular hymns in English at informal occasions, such as singings for the youth and family gatherings and visiting with neighbors. Simple instruments, while not used in worship nor formally approved, are found in social settings. The harmonica, especially, is enjoyed. Sometimes small groups of young people sing in trios, quartets or other groupings.

CDs and Digital Downloads

Amish School Christmas

Amish School Christmas is not a performance.  Not a studio production.  This CD will bring you inside a one-room Amish school.  The Christmas program is about to begin.  Family and neighbors sit wall to wall, adding background sounds. 

When grades one through eight sing and recite, the folksy charm will lift your heart. Songs range from “Good King Wenceslas” to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  In English, except two carols in German with parents singing along. 

Original cover art by Cheryl Benner.  Rare photos of Amish-dressed snow figures.  24 minutes.


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Amish Music Variety: Hymns to Harmonica

Samples the type of music used by the Amish in both worship and social singing in German and English. Unison, four-part, some harmonica and zither.

Songs: The Spirit’s Sword, In the Sweet By and By, Golden Deed, Tune 25, Work for the Night is Coming, There is Not Another, So I Keep On Singing, Preaching Chant, O God Father, Let Us Pray for Each Other, Nellie Gray, Jesus Christ the Son, Unser Vater, Christ the Lamb, Prayer Chant, Must I Go Empty Handed, Daddy’s Hands, My Ways Are Not Your Ways, When the Day Is Ended, I Need No Mansion. 40 mins.

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Amish Harmonica

Enjoy these ten songs performed by an Amish m usician on harmonica who played them as a teenage girl at hoe-downs. Four-page insert with essay and photos.

Songs: In the Sweet By and By, Let U s Pray for Each Other, I Need N o Mansions Here Below, My Old Kentucky Home, Must I Go Empty-Handed, We are Going Down the Valley, Darlin’ Nellie Gray, The Love of God, Amazing Grace, Work for the Night is Coming . 13.5 mins.

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