John Wesley’s Rules for Singing

February 28: John Wesley charters the Methodis...
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A few people mentioned this when I posted John Wesley’s rules for Preachers, so I went and found it –

1. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up and you will find a blessing.

So, maybe he met a few people who didn’t like singing…. of course for those of us not blessed with a single musical note in our body, you know what I mean – those of us who can only play the radio and we generally do that our of tune, what then? See rule 4.

2. Sing lustily, and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of it being heard, then when you sing the songs of Satan.

I’m sure he means something else which should be better translated into modern English – but immediately, I think about singing ‘Fever’ in church and it doesn’t go over well. See, John obviously thinks that I’m not being serious enough (look at the picture to the right).

3. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, as to be heard above, or distinct from, the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

4. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before, not stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can. And take care you sing not too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from among us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

See…it’s not so much a cross for me to sing, but I sure can make others cross when I sing!! I have no time. If I wear a watch, it soon begins to lag. Seriously, I’m generally a bar or two behind the choir. They stop singing and I’m still belting it out. Granted, this wasn’t a problem in more charismatic circles, since they just thought I was under the spirit and they would quickly join back in (which would make those services really, really long), but in the UMC church, I’ve got to watch it.

5. Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this, attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve of here, and reward when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

This, I can do…

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