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Sunday Morning Indiscretion

Sunday Morning Indiscretion

    About the third inning - that is, after the antiphonal reading of Psalm 105 - the young couple, in the bench directly in front of me, exited.  Or so I thought.  But a nagging thought arose, that maybe they were bothered by my loud singing of the hymns.  But the offering had not yet been taken and I speculated that, after the opening piety, they realized they were in the wrong church.  Wrong.  As the choir walked down the aisle after the benediction, I spied the couple engaged in conversation with the pastor. They had moved to a quieter location!   

    Probably they were simply arranging with the clergyperson for an interview in preparation for their marriage.  Something like that.  Still the nagging thought arose, "Howard, you belt out the hymns too loudly."

    On this issue of hymn-singing I'm with Mr. Wesley.  For those who may not be acquainted with him, John Wesley founded the Methodist movement in 18th Century England.  I confess I am not much of a Wesleyan in most things.  Sure, like John, I abstain from hard liquor; but I may be fairly accused of favoring fine woolens.  I may not hang golden chains around my neck; but I do sport a wedding band.  And I am often triflingly employed.  Fellow members of my Methodist class would have had ample reason to pray hard for me to repent.

    But one of Wesley's disciplines I heartily endorse has to do with the singing of hymns.  I quote the fourth rule in "The Directions for Singing" to be found on an opening page of The United Methodist Hymnal:

Sing lustily and with a 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.

    Of course, rule five reads: "Sing modestly. Do not bawl."

   Ah, that must have been the problem.  I thought I was singing lustily and they thought I was bawling.  My dear wife, the ultimate helpmate, better than Eve in setting her husband straight, doesn't want to offend me by judging my singing as bawling; but neither does she reassure me that I'm doing just fine. 

    The hymns leant themselves to lusty singing: "We've a Story to Tell to the Nations" and "Lead On, O Cloud of Presence" (better known with older words, "Lead On, O King Eternal," whose words are blighted with monarchial metaphor). 

    The young couple, however, were not persuaded by these mitigating considerations I offer.

    Or they may have been reacting to my morning breath, laden with the odor of garlic-fried eggs. 

    Next Sunday I'll sing like everyone else: head down and barely audible.

    Probably not.




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