Monday, February 14, 2011

Directions for Singing

One of the exercises in my Certified Lay Ministries module is to consider Wesley's Directions for Singing.  Have you ever read those?  You can find them in the first few pages of the UM Hymnal, or at this link.

Here are my thoughts:

As I read these rules, I am struck by the idea that the same rules could apply (in some ways) to life in a community of believers.  As you read these, be aware of the word "sing" in a metaphorical sense, not a literal one.

  1. Focus first on learning what we have in common, and then branch out. Once you know how we sing, imagine how it can influence what you learn beyond our song. Imagine what you can bring to the community from other songs.
  2. Accept how we sing. Learn the rhythm, tunes and words the way the community will teach them to you.
  3. Be present. Sign with the community. Just sing!
  4. Enter into the community with energy. Your attitude will affect all of us, so contribute your voice and you life. Do not be a drain; be a contributor. Also, know that we will not judge your voice or your song; we will accept you as you are, so do not be afraid to sing.
  5. Be modest; be humble. Contribute your gifts in a way that lifts up God, not yourself. Unite with the community.
  6. Move with the community, sharing one timing. Lead when called; follow when called.
  7. Above all, place God first. Let him be the purpose of why you are here.
I think Wesley was trying to tell us to focus on the Church. Learn the music of the church before other music – be committed. Learn how to sing it as part of the community, in time and in harmony with the community. Do not be afraid to participate, and do not believe you are the most important voice to be heard. Before all else, place God first. What does that mean for a modern church planning its music ministry? As with any other part of worship, planning for the music should be done with an eye to God’s will.

  1. Spend some time teaching music. If a tune is unfamiliar, practice it with the congregation during the announcement time.
  2. Use a Song Leader when necessary. 
  3. Design the music ministry in worship with the same intentionality as the rest of worship.
  4. Encourage people to sing.
  5. Use accompanying instruments that are appropriate to the style of music.

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