As we gather in churches to hear Choir Cantatas or to do lesson and carol services, we need to remember John Wesley’s directions for singing. On page vii in the United Methodist Hymnal that is excatly what we get. I find this very interesting. We sing in church because we sing glory to God. We do not do it to sound pretty, to show off our talents, or to provide people with a chance to stand and be silent for a couple of minutes. We sing hymns or Christmas Carols because they express our devotion, praise and our love for our God.
Here are John Wesley’s Rules for Singing.
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 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
As we get to the celebration Christmas this month we need to be so filled with joy and praise that we burst into song. Let us sing spiritually and have an eye to God in every word we sing. If we do so, we will be truly worshipping our Lord, the Christ Child, the babe in the manger.