June 1, 1986 Issue
by Don L. King
Within this issue is an announcement of the new songbook "Blessed Assurance." I am always excited when a new book is ready for the church. I sincerely hope every congregation will, as soon as possible, buy them and begin learning the new songs. This long awaited event, however, brings to my mind a bit of sadness as I realize some are not as interested in singing as they could be.
I remember many years ago when new books would come out. My old home congregation always had them before anyone and we would sing for days. Folks would get together at home, after services, even plan a time for the church to get together and practice singing the new songs. I really don't remember learning the notes. I can't remember a time when I didn't know them. We loved to sing gospel songs, and most of the congregation could sing the notes. Learning music wasn't drudgery for us! It was easy because we had a tremendous interest in that part of our worship. It was not uncommon, in those times, for outsiders to attend gospel meetings because the singing was outstanding. What a disappointment to a preacher who has a good sermon ready and is anxious to preach, to have the services begin with an out of tune, and often listless, song service. It just takes something out of me when this happens. Yes, I know some simply are not able to sing well and know nothing about music.
But anyone can sing with enthusiasm and anyone can have an interest in making the singing as good as possible.
I don't know just when it began nor why it occurred but, brethren, we do not have as much interest in our singing as we need to have. Singing is part of the worship and it demands our best effort. We are diligent (most of us) to carefully prepare our lessons. We wouldn't think of teaching or preaching with no enthusiasm or interest. Why do we sing praises to the Father in heaven and have little interest?
In many places at the close of a meeting a lunch is served by the sisters and later a time is set aside for singing. In times past, brethren made great efforts and came long distances to be at the singing. Now, fewer come and less effort is made. The logical reason for this being so is that we have less interest in singing than we once had. Brethren are some times even a bit crucial of us who encourage an interest in learning to sing well. We are told the important thing is to sing from the heart and it really matters very little if it is not done well or correctly. Frankly, I seriously question such logic. Would anyone question the benefit of a teacher learning to use good grammar so he may speak well and correctly? The rules of language are tools for him that he may effectively edify the body of Christ. Why not make an effort to learn a few basic rules of music that our singing together is just as good as it can possibly be?
Song leaders should be chosen thoughtfully by the brother in charge. Too, song leaders should choose their songs thoughtfully. One should choose songs which will fit the occasion, songs he is able to lead and the congregation able to sing. Every leader should strive to learn to both pitch and beat the time to the song so the congregation can more easily sing together and at the same tempo. Anyone who can accurately sing the scale can learn to pitch a song with a reasonable degree of success. It may very well require a bit of time and effort, but the improvement is worth it. Those who are singing along should try to hold their songbooks low enough to allow them to see the leader and the tempo he is directing. When proper interest is maintained and each worshiper pays the necessary attention to the song service, it can be a wonderful and exciting part of our worship.
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