Recycling Hymns Creatively – Wayfarer (check these guys out!)

Hi there, we’re Wayfarer.

We live in Seattle and do something a little different than most bands: we take lyric sets from old, largely forgotten hymns or Southern Spirituals, and we write entirely new music to those lyrics: melodies, chords, arrangements, etc. We call it “Repurposed Hymns & Spiritual Songs.”

This last January, we traveled to Thailand bringing some of these fresh ideas and songs to some friends who had prepared a small tour for us. Seattle musician Mark Isakson joined us for the tour to carry out some additional guest musician responsibilities as we traveled through Northern Thailand, seeing much of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, and playing for everything from intimate Akhai Village Communities to loud Night Market gatherings.

After nine months of multiple sessions each week of writing, arranging, and recording a myriad of songs, we ended up with the finished 5 song EP, “The River”, which was released on July 22nd. “The River” is a free digital download from (, and you can check out Vinyl, Posters, and T-Shirt from (

In the few weeks of “The River” debut, we’ve gotten some incredible attention, including the most recent exposure from Christianity Today:

Taking lyrics from old hymns and putting them to new arrangements is hardly a novel idea, but it often comes off as stilted or simply too far off the mark from its rich source material. Not here. This Seattle band pulls off the concept with style, grace, and beauty, and its harmonies (sometimes a la Fleet Foxes, sometimes the Beach Boys) are a recurrent highlight on this 5-song debut EP.” – Mark Moring

We are currently in the studio working on new songs, planning shows for the Fall, and pushing to get a copy of “The River” into everyone’s hands. Thanks for reading, check out our music, share it if you love it, and stay tuned for Wayfarer happenings by checking out the links below.

About Wayfarer:

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  • I certainly hope that “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed?” (one of my absolute favorites) has not become an “old, largely forgotten hymn.” None-the-less, this is very cool. I love to see hymns put to new music. Thanks for sharing!

  • Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Peter_g

    A good idea.

    Sometimes, of course, the hymn tune is great but the words incomprehensible to modern audiences. We have been known to modernise language as well.

    Another possibility is to use the words of a known hymn and re-arrange them, sometimes fitting them to a well-known public domain tune. We did something with “Amazing Grace” and the tune “Li’l Liza Jane”, for example — the kind of thing people can clap along to. Years ago, someone in our church youth group also fitted a modified version of “All to Jesus, I surrender” to the Credence Clearwater Revival tune, “Who stopped the rain?”

    “Jesus, I surrender, All to you I freely give; Always love and trust you, In your presence daily live…” etc.