Common Praise (1998) is the most widely used hymn book across The Anglican Church of Canada. Neither the General Synod nor ABC Publishing hold copyright authority for the hymns in Common Praise; authors and composers (or designated administrators) hold their own copyright—with the exception of works in the public domain. As copyright was secured for Common Praise in 1996, permissions do not include use in digital formats such as eBooks or web content, nor do they include permission for the broadcast of live or recorded performances.

Format Approved use Permission required
Printed book (available at
Including lyrics or music in printed bulletin or similar ✓ *
Lyrics displayed in church (e.g., via projector or display) ✓ *
Performance (in-person worship) ✓ *
Electronic distribution of lyrics or sheet music (e.g. email, website, PDF, eBook, etc) ✓ for public domain works
✗ for copyrighted works
Contact copyright holder or licensing companies for permission/license
Performance (live broadcast)
Performance (recorded broadcast)
* for congregation sizes up to the number of printed book copies owned by the parish/church

Public domain works

Background: Copyright in a work exists for the life of the author/creator and the remainder of the calendar year in which they are deceased, plus fifty years† after the end of that calendar year (source: Copyright Act). When the term of copyright protection ends or expires, works fall into the public domain.

† When the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) came into effect on July 1, 2020, the general term of copyright protection in Canada for works of authorship was extended from 50 years after the life of the author to 70 years after the life of the author. Canada has a transition period that lasts until December 31, 2022 to implement this change.

Works in the public domain can be used free of charge and do not require written permission from the author/creator.

How to tell if a Common Praise hymn is in the public domain: Below each hymn in Common Praise, a copyright symbol © is displayed for any component of a hymn that is copyrighted.

EXAMPLE — Hymn 1: Holy, Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty

Copyright information at the bottom of the first page:

Text: Reginald Heber (1783–1826), alt.
Music: John Bacchus Dykes (1823–1876); desc. Geoffrey Hewitt (1909– ) ©.

Copyright information under each translation on the second page:

[For Plains Cree] Tr. John Alexander Mackay (1838–1923)
[For Naskapi] Tr. Joseph Guanish (1931– ) © Adapt. From Eastern Cree, William Gladstone Walton (1867–1948) and Daisy Alice Spencer Walton (1873–1948) © Anglican Book Centre.
[For Inuktitut] Tr. Bejamin T. Arreak (1947– )

In the example above, copyright applies to:

  • the descant for the hymn;
  • the Naskapi translation; and
  • the Inuktitut translation.

The melody, original text, harmonies (except descant) and Plains Cree text translation are in the public domain.

Copyright holders

Common Praise includes an alphabetical list of copyright holders in the hymnal. Please consult this resource to obtain permissions beyond the approved uses noted above.

Where the copyright holder is identified as either The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada or The Anglican Book Centre, advance permissions are given freely for use by parishes, dioceses, religious orders and other organizations of The Anglican Church of Canada.

Licensing companies

Licensing companies represent a large number creators and artists, granting permissions for songs and hymns. Of these, OneLicense and CCLI have proven to be the most helpful to Anglican parishes. On their websites, you can: search permissions for specific hymns; or, purchase blanket license subscriptions for reproduction, online streaming and/or performance. Licensing company libraries are subject to change and you should consult these organizations directly for additional details.