A screen displaying lyrics and Bible texts is more or less replacing printed material at most places of worship. Depending on how it is used, the screen can be a purposeful aid or an unfortunate distraction. Choosing the right software to run the slides is therefore an important decision to support the worship environment.
If you’re on a tight budget, here’s a list of 14 free options in no particular order that offer a variety of features to suit your church presentation needs:
Sporting a clean and user-friendly interface, Exposong handles the OpenLyrics data format, thereby providing compatibility with alternative open-source lyrics applications. Supports lyrics, alerts, images, timers, set management, library import/export, compatibility with OpenSong & SongSelect files, songbook printing etc. No video features yet. Runs on Windows and Ubuntu-Debian.
Known as Easislides earlier, this freeware supports 3 monitors, so musicians on stage can have their own screen to follow the lyrics. Supports lyric display in 2 languages for multi-lingual services, video playback including live camera feed integration, chords storage, alerts, searchable Bible, songbook creation and more. Does not allow on-the-fly slide edits though. Windows only.
Datasoul is a cross platform (Windows, Linux and Mac) freeware that supports display of text, images and video, nice formatting options, alerts, video backgrounds (file and live feed) and separate output for the main screen and stage. It can handle lyrics, chords, transposition and even guitar tabs apart from launching PDF, PPT and OpenOffice files. Another cool feature is its ability to export a presentation to PDF. There are also tools available to import PowerPoint and OpenOffice presentations and songs fromEasyWorship.
This is a Windows only freeware for displaying songs, hymns, Bible passages, notices & orders of service and dual monitor output. Its unique feature is using MS-NetMeeting to broadcast a presentation over the Internet.
Apart from standard features like lyrics, chords, Bible, alerts, handling PowerPoint files, Songview can also track song use history for CCLI reporting and display chords for the musicians on stage as a separate output. Songview is also portable and can be installed and run from a USB stick. Windows only.
Quelea is a cross platform (Windows and Linux) projection program that can get you started quickly with your song library as it allows importing songs from various sources like the Kingsway online library,survivor songbooks and source songbooks. It’s also compatible with the Zefania Bible format to import a wide variety of Bibles. Supports lyrics, transposition of chords, PowerPoint, Video playback and more.
Zionworx comes with integrated Bibles and a song database, great text formatting options, CCLI compliance, service list creation, PowerPoint integration and more. It does not handle chords though. Its unique feature is the ability to connect to BibleGateway.com to download and display Bible passages on-the-fly. Windows only.
This open source program supports dual language display, set-list management, video, flash & image file display, Bibles (integrated with the SWORD project) and good media management tools. No support for chords. Windows only.
A simple program that supports storing of lyrics with chords (includes key transposition also), searchable Bible, alerts, dual monitors, creation of printable lead sheets etc. However, two disadvantages with OpenSong are its inability to allow slide edits during the slideshow and lack of video playback. OpenSong is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
10. Power Worship
A standard and popular
freeware open source program with loads of features for managing and displaying songs, Bible verses, images, videos (not video backgrounds though), alerts, Bible import from CSV files, CCLI/SongSelect integration, PowerPoint file import and more. It even facilitates linking songs to audio files for use as backing tracks. Openlp is available for Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch Linux and FreeBSD.
Powersong is an easy to learn presentation tool that comes with multiple databases with song categorization, extensive text formatting, Bible support, real-time song editing, set-list building, alerts and more. Does not support video though. Windows only.
13. SNAP Projection
This simple program apart from regular song management features also works with PowerPoint slides – slides created in PowerPoint can be used in SNAP Projection to present them. Allows editing/correcting slides real-time and set management. Windows only.
Asaph is no longer in active development but the freeware is still available for download through CNET. It can manage song databases, publish song-sheets/booklets and generate presentations for worship. Windows only.