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Old 03-04-2015, 08:08 PM
Joe21 Joe21 is offline
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Default Methodists Love To Sing

Methodists love to sing but certain restrictions may apply. We don't particularly like a new hymn because very few of us can read music and some of those who can read music can's sing. But at least, all of us think we can sing. We like those hymns we learned as a child. We knew every word and we didn't have to open the hymnal. In fact, we knew the page number of a particular hymn before we learned to read. I suppose that was just part of being a Methodist.

I grew up in a Methodist Church in North Florida. At that time we were the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. It was sometime later when the several Methodist groups decided we would try our best to get along with each other and we merged. My home town was small but, like many former small towns, people discover small towns have a special appeal and the population increased. Heck, they now have a McDonald's , Dollar General and two pizza joints. Back in the 1920's and '30's, my home town had a population of about 1,000. We were so small we didn't have a town drunk, some of the civic minded citizens had to take turns.

The Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian Churches were located on the same street, all within three blocks of each other. The Presbyterian congregation was small and they had services twice each month. On those Sundays when they did not have a service most came to the Methodist Church. Those Presbyterians were known as Half-Methodist but they could sing like a full blooded Methodist.

On one of the side walls of our sanctuary was a bulletin board which listed the page number of the the hymns to be sung during the service. We sang the same hymns so many times every one knew the hymn without looking in the hymnal. I've seen so many of those bulletin boards in churches I've visited, even in Baptist and Presbyterian Churches. I don't know who sold those bulletin boards but whoever it was must have made a fortune in sales. Sometimes the bulletin board contained other information such as the attendance at Sunday School and/or church and even the offering received on the previous Sunday. Methodists' talents always seemed bent toward singing and making casseroles for church suppers rather than giving generously when the offering plate was passed. Some of those churches may have been too embarrassed to post the amount of the offering from the previous Sunday.

There were a few members of our congregation who could really sing and they were invited to join the choir but the talent level of those in the audience was difficult to describe. The voices were so different it was if we could call the roll by identifying the voice of the singer. Sometimes at the Sunday night service we had a songfest. Members called out the number of their favorite hymn. Some of us young boys knew the favorite hymn of many of the members of our congregation and we named them Mr. 347 or Mrs. 293.

There must have been a rule in the Methodist Book of Discipline about the number of verses we were to sing. When the hymn was announced it was always followed by "we will sing the first two and last verses". The rule applied even if there were only three verses in the hymn, and sometimes there were only two verses. Every hymn was concluded with Amen and often times it was stretched out long enough to allow every one to catch up so we would all end at the same time.

Most Methodist ministers, when leaving a church for a new assignment, may give the incoming minister a few suggestions re the congregation in general and perhaps some specific suggestions. Probably the most important admonition would be to never ever introduce a new hymn until it had been approved by the Administrative Board and discussed at a Quarterly Conference. I've seen newly assigned ministers attempt to introduce a new hymn. If the page number was posted on the bulletin board, the congregation knew immediately it was not an old familiar hymn. Oh, sometimes the congregation liked the new hymn, particularly if the non-singers could follow along with a decent hum. If a few in the congregation began to tap their feet in cadence with the music, the minister had performed a miracle. But when the hymnal was slammed shut half way through the first verse, the minister had lost his congregation. He might as well say Amen and dismiss the worshipers. I always associated a closed hymnal as a closed mind and the devil had already sneaked in the back door.

Methodists are as varied as the weather but the one thing in common is there love for singing. In my travels around much of this world, I've seen Methodist Churches where ever I went. In countries where the dominant religion was non-Christian, they were few and far between, but I found some and they all loved to sing. But the best singers by far are the Welsh. Anyone in the United Kingdom will readily tell you the Welsh Methodist choirs are the world's best and they have tapes to prove it.

Over the years we Methodists have gradually been introduced to more and more beautiful hymns. No longer do we close the hymnal when introduced to a new hymn. We have discovered that between the first and last pages of the Methodist Hymnal, not only do we find beautiful music, we also find words that define our faith and offer us comfort.

And from the congregation I hear a loud AMEN.

Last edited by Joe21; 03-04-2015 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 03-05-2015, 07:23 AM
Robert Thorne MacRae's Avatar
Robert Thorne MacRae Robert Thorne MacRae is online now
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Default Re: Methodists Love To Sing

Thanks for sharing Joe
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