Thursday, April 2

Psalm100: 1-2 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.

But I Can’t Sing!

We all know them. Maybe it’s you. It was definitely me many years ago. “Why do Sunday morning church services have to have so much singing?” or “I don’t like to sing,” or (my personal favorite) “I can’t sing. I’m tone deaf.”

In the early ‘80’s my dear friend and then Music Director at Ft. Hill Church in Lynchburg, came to me and made me an offer: “Come sing in the choir. We rehearse on Thursday nights. Come early so I can see where you need to be.” I think I threw all of the above excuses at him, and he didn’t go for any of them. So, reluctantly, I showed up at the choir room half an hour early.

First, he had me read Wesley’s Directions for Singing out loud.* And, as I read, directions III, IV and VII seemed to be aimed directly at me. “Where are these directions?” you ask. Very first thing in the hymnal following the preface, there they are. Take a few minutes before church starts some Sunday morning (no, not during the sermon!) and read them. You will probably crack a smile somewhere along the way, but you may never view congregational hymn singing the same again.

Then, as he softly played on the piano, he had me sing the first verse of Nearer My God to Thee. “OK”, he said “you’re a tenor.”

“Cool! What’s a tenor?” I asked. Insightful as he was, he placed me between two of the most wonderful tenor voices I have ever heard and instructed them to teach me how to sing tenor. They had their work cut out for them. But, over the intervening years I have tried to continue learning, and now, today, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, even though I could never sing as beautifully as John and Jeff.

One of the first psalms we ever learn as children is the 100th. “Make a joyful noise” it proclaims. Now, unless your Bible is different from mine, it doesn’t say “Make a joyful noise, but you must sing in perfect pitch.” Our singing is a wonderful way to join in with the entire congregation in worship and praise. Singing in the choir may not be for everyone, but singing hymns is.

Charley Jones

Prayer: Dear Lord, please accept and bless my singing as praise offered to You, even if it isn’t always in perfect pitch. Amen

*See: John Wesley’s Directions for Singing; United Methodist Hymnal, p vii.