How Cantara Works

Background Story

When I was at my high school time, I became part in the leadership of a Christian youth group. When conducting our events, we liked to sing a few songs at the beginning. However the problem occurred that the available song books where not enough and the content was sometimes not matching with the songs which were wished. At that time I was looking for an available song presentation program and became disappointed quickly. Most of the existing programs were either commercial, very complicated or simply an “overkill” for the basically quite simple purpose: People should be able to (spontaneously) choosing songs, the program should then display them.

At that time, I decided to start the development of Cantara. The name is coming from the Latin “cantare” (to sing) but more artificial then real. An other reason for choosing the name was that at the same time, I was becoming an organ player in church –and the German name for that position is “Kantor” which sounds quite similar.

Later I have been able to lead the best student group in the world πŸ˜ƒ and while doing so, the program slowly was growing and updated with new futures like multi-screen-support and the opportunity to export song texts directly to the clipboard so that it can be used in small groups without beamer projection possibility. Cantara’s development will continue and I hope that it will be a small tool to praise and worship our great heavenly father!

The Approach

graph LR;
    A[Input File] -->|Collecting Songs| B(Song List)
    B --> C(Song Selection)
    C --> D{Generate Presentation Data}
    D --> E[Run Presentation Directly]
    D --> F[Export Lyrics in Markup Format]
    D --> G[Export Presentation as PPTX]
    D --> H[Export Presentation as Pictures]

Cantara takes the songs from one particular folder on the file system which is called the song repository (or briefly song repo). Every song is a simple text file which can be edited with a text editor of your choice. Cantara will recognize the song title from the name of the file (without the extension). So, for example. If you have a file like:


Cantara will recognize it as “Amazing Grace” written in the song format (for formats see the next section).


The song repository dictionary can be shared and synced easily via cloud services like NextCloud or Git. In that way you can distribute songs within your group or organization.


Since version 2.4.0, Cantara offers a built-in editor which you can use to edit the songs and convert CCLI songs to the Cantara song format. Notice that the songs remain single text files and therefore can still be edited with any text editor.


The developers of Cantara are not responsible for copyright issues which come along with the public use and distributions of song lyrics. Make sure that you obtain the rights for using the song lyrics! In Germany, religious gatherings with free admission enjoy higher copyright freedom than commercial events. However, please make sure with your organization that no legal problems arise.