Where to get the songs

Getting the songs might be one of the most important questions when using a song presentation software. Cantara supports two different song formats. One has the file ending .song and is very simple for it just contains the lyrics in the order as they should be presented. The other format is used by CCLI Songselect and has the file endings .txt or .ccli. CCLI is a commercial database where you can download a lot of Christian songs for the use in churches or Christian groups.

A lot of Christian church denominations and groups in Germany (including FeG, SMD as far as I know) provide member access to CCLI Songselect. You can find out whether you organization has already booked a subscription for you.

Cantara will automatically detect the correct song format and interpretate it in the way as stated below.

The song file format

The song file format is a file which ends with .song. The lyrics there have to be printed in the same order as they should be shown including repetitions. Different slides are seperated with a double linebreak (an empty line). For example, if you would like to add the song “‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”, add a new file 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.song with the following content:

Expand the file content

The song consists of four stanzas with the chorus repeated after each one. Now, let’s say that we would like to have a slightly different version of the song where we sing two stanzas together. A good convention fot this would be to copy the existing file 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.song to 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus [two stanzas together].song and adjust the content:

Expand the file content

Cantara will detect both song files and list them next to each other. While this approach seems to be a little bit complecated at the beginning, the practical usage has shown that it is much easier then using more complex file formats. You can always use your local text editor to adjust the lyrics as you like them to be. There will be no danger of missinterpretation or wrong order.

CCLI Songselect

As stated above, you can directly import songs from CCLI Songselect. Go to their webpage, login with your account and search for the song which you want to download. Press the speech bubble symbol right next to it (see picture below). After the text is shown, click at the third blue button from the left with the download symbol. Save the .txt-file directly into the Cantara song repository directory. Cantara should recognize the song and use the lyrics in the correct order.

How Cantara understands the CCLI song lyrics files

In opposite to the song format, the CCLI songselect lyrics format provides no information about the correct order of the different parts (stanzas/chorusses etc.). So, Cantara has to determine the order via an implemented algorithm. For most of the songs, Cantara will put the lyrics into the correct order. However, some of the CCLI song files lack consistency. In this case, you should create a .song-file on your own. Here is some information about the parts which Cantara does understand:

  • “Vers/Strophe”: a stanza which will be sung only once at the placed position
  • “Chorus”: if available, the chorus will be sung at the placed position and afterwards repeated after every stanza or bridge. If an other chorus will come, it will replace the first one.
  • “Bridge”: Will be treated like a stanza. A chorus will (most likely) follow if there has been one before.
  • “PreChorus”: Will be sung before chorus (here the format is quite inconsistent!)
  • “Schluss”: A closing part of the song. No chorus will follow.

In the future, there will be an implementation of a direct conversion tool from the CCLI song format to the song format.

As stated before, it is your responsability to comply with the legal requirements of CCLI and the song copyright owners when using their services!

Additional Song Lyrics Sources