Directions for Singing
Methodism. (His brother Charles wrote some 6,500 hymns). In the preface to a
collection of hymns, John wrote the following instructions:
DIRECTIONS FOR SINGING
[pay special attention to #7]
1. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as
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 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 it 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, no more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung 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 clear melodious sound.
6. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run
before nor stay behind it; but attend close 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 us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at
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 here, and reward you when he
cometh in the clouds of heaven.
--John Wesley, SELECTED HYMNS, 1761, as found in THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, United Methodist Publishing House, 1989.
Have a great week,