Ever read the preface in the hymnal? There are all kinds of cool info and insights into the music within. And the UMC hymnal has John Wesley’s Directions for Singing as part of the preface. Just a list of directions for singing, and if every congregation sang with those in mind, folks in the street would stop (collaborate) and listen. In fact, going through Wesley’s directions was one of the first things I did with the music team with The Journey at St. John’s in Fort Mill.
Perhaps my favorite direction is number four: “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 sung the songs of Satan.” (As printed in the UMC Hymnal)
Ok, admittedly I chuckle at the word lustily, and I read it with a bit of growl in my voice. But let’s get beyond my juvenile sense of humor. So we are to sing lustily and with good courage. Merrian-Webster defines lustily as ” full of strength and vitality,” but how does that translate to our singing? I believe we should sing with abandon. Sing without concern as to who hears you, what you look like, or if it may not be perfect.
Still not clear as to what that sounds like? Well Wesley tells you exactly what that sounds like: “Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.” Granted I don’t think that the latest single by Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry are songs of Satan; but we clearly sing those songs differently than the hymns in church. What would worship sound like if we raised our voices with the enthusiasm we give to Billboard’s Top 100? I wonder…