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Rules for Singing - Music Ministry, May 2024

John and Charles Wesley were a vigorous team of brothers who founded Methodism. John was a powerful preacher and Charles was a wonderful poet who penned well more than 6,500 hymns. Our hymnal alone contains 16 of his works, more than any other contributor. Just a few of them we use often are: “O For A Thousand Tongues”, “And Can It Be”, “Arise My Soul Arise”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. The Wesleys were passionate about God, about preaching, and about singing. It was a deep desire of theirs that their congregations would sing well to honor God, and to learn and maintain sound theology. The brothers recognized that a good tune can tie a text to minds and hearts in an inexplicable way. Indeed, it is a serious endeavor to sing in worship – yet also a thing to be entered upon with great joy.


So, I share with you now John Wesley’s “Directions for Singing” first published in a hymnal in 1761. I hope these encourage you all to continue in your good work of singing, especially on Sunday mornings, but also at home throughout the week. All the songs we sing for worship are included in a playlist on our YouTube channel. Look it up, press play, and come to church ready to sing!


That this part of divine worship may be the more acceptable to God, as well as the more profitable to yourself and others, be careful to observe the following directions.


1. Learn these tunes before you learn any others, afterwards learn as many as you please.


2. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.


3. Sing all – see that you join 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.


4. Sing lustily – and with 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 its being heard, than when you sang the songs of Satan.


5. Sing modestly – do not bawl so 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 melodious sound.


6. Sing in time – whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before and do not stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices and move therewith as exactly as you can and take care not to sing 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.


7. 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 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 here, and reward when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.


Yours in Christ,

Dan, Director of Music Ministry

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