by Sandi Austin
How did I never know about this? I’ve been a Methodist for years, and even sang in the church choir, but in all those years of flipping through the pages of The United Methodist Hymnal, I never saw this before … Directions for Singing!
If you happen to have a hymnal nearby, turn with me to page vii. (That’s clear in the front.) There, you will find what John Wesley wrote in 1761, and still appears in print to this day! In many ways, choir directors today may echo his thoughts on singing.
- Learn these before you learn any others. The more familiar you are with a song, the less time you’ll spend singing with your eyes buried in the music instead of watching the choir director.
- Sing exactly as it’s printed here. If you have learned to sing the song otherwise, UNlearn it ASAP. Nothing drives a choir director crazier than hearing a rogue voice in the mix.
- Sing all.
- Sing lustily and with good courage. Sing with strong conviction. Sing like you believe in the words you’re singing.
- Sing modestly. Sing to blend in beautifully. Don’t overpower the other voices – unless, of course, you have a solo part.
- Sing in time. Exactly why number one is so important. Keep your eye on the director and not on your music. The director will keep the pace if you watch him or her.
- Above all, sing spiritually. Give the beautiful hymns the respect they deserve.
As members of the Julesburg United Methodist Church before moving up here 20 years ago, we had a great leadership team in Marv and Caroline Vose. Marv was one of our favorite pastors and his wife, a most amazing musician, was our choir director.
As John Wesley strived for perfection in hymn singing, so did Caroline with her choir’s delivery of those hymns. She was so successful that I can remember singing some selections that literally gave me goosebumps!
That’s how hymns should make you feel!