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John Wesley's Directions for Singing

Marion 17 Jul 00 - 11:01 PM
JedMarum 17 Jul 00 - 11:12 PM
bob jr 18 Jul 00 - 12:20 AM
Joe Offer 18 Jul 00 - 12:32 AM
Gary T 18 Jul 00 - 12:34 AM
GUEST,Banjo Johnny 18 Jul 00 - 01:54 AM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 02:03 AM
Joe Offer 18 Jul 00 - 04:18 AM
Ringer 18 Jul 00 - 09:55 AM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 10:17 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 10:32 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 10:47 AM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 10:47 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 10:54 AM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 11:01 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 11:17 AM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 11:25 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 18 Jul 00 - 11:35 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 11:46 AM
sian, west wales 18 Jul 00 - 11:51 AM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 11:51 AM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 12:42 PM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 12:48 PM
sophocleese 18 Jul 00 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,Banjo Johnny 18 Jul 00 - 02:10 PM
Alan of Australia 18 Jul 00 - 08:56 PM
catspaw49 18 Jul 00 - 09:01 PM
Margaret V 19 Jul 00 - 09:53 PM
sian, west wales 20 Jul 00 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Dorrance Dance Studio (Taylorsville, MD USA) 21 Oct 10 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 22 Oct 10 - 09:54 AM
LadyJean 22 Oct 10 - 11:50 PM
GUEST,Old Vermin on Ubuntu 23 Oct 10 - 05:46 AM
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Subject: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Marion
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:01 PM

Hello. Here's something I recently came across and thought some might enjoy: it's excerpted from John Wesley's "Select Hymns", published in 1761. For those who don't know, John was a musician who along with his brother Charles (a preacher) founded the Methodist church. John Wesley's Directions for Singing

I. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. 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 as soon as you can.

III. 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.

IV. 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, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

V. 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.

VI. 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 first.

VII. 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.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: JedMarum
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 11:12 PM

sounds like great advice!


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: bob jr
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 12:20 AM

sounds boring to me nothing better than lagging behind or being ahead of the beat


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 12:32 AM

Well, it certainly makes good sense for community singing. Our song circle has certain members who never seem to be happy with the standard version of a song. They want to alter the tempo on the third line of each verse, or put a little swing in the song, or use alternate words. All this may be fine if they're singing solo or with a group of musicians who have the luxury of practicing - but they end up with chaos when they try it in our group of non-singers who are just there for the fun of it.
Wesley's rules make a whole lot of sense for community or congregational singing. I've come across many church music directors who scoff at Wesley's rules. Their choirs may sound terrific, but their congregations can't sing. Hooray for Wesley!
-Joe Offer, Roman Catholic-


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Gary T
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 12:34 AM

I like the spirit of this advice, though I bristle at the concept of "songs of Satan". Unfortunately, I always found 90+% of the songs in the Methodist Hymnal to be overwrought and boring. I have to confess that most folks--including me--seem to sing the songs rather mechanically, contrary to Wesley's exhortations. It would probably be quite moving to sing/hear them sung as he proposes.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: GUEST,Banjo Johnny
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 01:54 AM

Some churches are better than others. In general, Mormons have the best congregational singers, Catholics are the worst. Lutherans have the best organists, Catholics are the worst. Baptists have the best preachers, Catholics ... (but they are fine people)

== Johnny in Oklahoma City


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 02:03 AM

Does anyone remember all of the old saw to the effect that a Baptist is a Christian who learned to swim, a Metodist is a Bartist that learned to sing, a Presbyterian is a Methodist that learned to talk, and an Episcopalian is a Catholic who flunked Latin......something along those lines anyway......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 04:18 AM

As a Catholic, I think I'd say Johnny is right. Catholic churches have a history of paying musicians poorly. Catholic priests are selected for reasons other than their preaching ability - and when you train a seminarian for 8 years, you're reluctant to kick him out just because his preaching is poor. Besides, Catholic priests are ordained for life - they can get fired or defrocked for misconduct, but rarely for poor performance.
But the Catholic congregational singing problem is something I don't understand. Maybe it's from generation upon generation of singing in a language people don't understand. Maybe it will take generations to repair that damage. When I sing in the congregation instead of with the choir, people tend to turn around and look at me. After Mass, they'll often stop and say they wish more people would sing so nicely - but wht I wonder is why don't they sing, instead of just talking about it.
I've been struggling to encourage Catholic congregational singing for 30 years, and have had only limited success. One part of the problem is reluctance on the part of church musicians, I think there are many other factors I haven't figured out yet.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Ringer
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 09:55 AM

Surely, of the Wesleys, John was the preacher, Charles the poet and Samuel the musician?

I remember hearing John's advice to the bald (a subject dear to my heart) in a book of nostrums against everything from "women's flux" to the common cold. Paraphrasing freely from memory, it began "Rub into the pate a mixture of honey and ground raw onion...". Stick to advising on singing, John.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:17 AM

Baldy that strikes me that his singing advice may be a little suspect then too.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:32 AM

I dunno....... honey & ground raw onion will probably do wonders for your singing.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:47 AM

Marion,
JW's fourth point brings to mind Maddy Prior's album (with The Carnival Band) titled "Sing Lustily & With Good Courage", which is largely hymns from the (now seldom seen in Australia) Methodist Hymn Book, including numbers by Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts etc.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:47 AM

Well that could be Alan, but do you think singing lustily and with courage will grow hair?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 10:54 AM

Well, I seem to remember Maddy singing "My husband's got no courage in him". Maybe that means he had no hair. Don't know if he was lusty or not........


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:01 AM

Could be Alan....then again, maybe baldness is holy in itself since both heaven and a bald head have no parting.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:17 AM

Or a bald head is wholly parting.

Enough forehead for four heads.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:25 AM

Alan? What was this thread about? I forget.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:35 AM

Singing lustily & with good courage, honey & raw onions is good for the memory.

I think.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:35 AM

Try this, 'Spaw: put the throat syrup on your head and drink the bay rum. You might sing a parting song or you might bay at the moon. Let me know how you get on (I'm the one behind the screens in the BW Annexe)
RtS


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:46 AM

This thread's a bit like a toupe - if you don't stick to the point it'll creep.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: sian, west wales
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:51 AM

Wesley's school of thought caught on, Big Time, here in Wales ... but (it must be noted) not without a fight. I'd guess that most of us here have grown up with a choral tradition stemming from, or related to, JW's ideas but it weren't always thus.

At the beginning of the 19th century (if I may wax historical for a minute) Wesley's style of congregational singing was spreading all over the place - linked to the introduction of the Tonic Sol-Fa music notation. However, I've seen one very long ballad (of the moral exhortation style of ballad - not the Frankie 'n' Johnnie kind) condemning this kind of congregational singing out of hand. It was written by a Jane Hughes in, I think, 1820 and she cut the idea of tidy, all-together-now singing to shreds. If I remember correctly, she felt that notation restricted the free flow of emotion in the singing of hymns. The musicologist who showed me the ballad said that, as far as he could make out, the singing prior to that was probably very similar to the singing of psalms in the Western Isles in Scotland ... which is very ...eerie? Jane felt the spirit should progress the song, not one person's diktat.

I love listening to the Western Isles kinda stuff ... but I gotta admit that I enjoy it best in smaller doses. Still, it's a pity that one tradition completely one out against the other here in Wales (well, with a couple of minor exceptions perhaps, but that's another story...)

Interesting thread.

sian


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 11:51 AM

Yeah, gotta' be careful not to sweep the original topic under the rug.......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 12:42 PM

OK Spaw, you win - I shoulda been in bed hours ago.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 12:48 PM

Naw Alan...This one goes to you. Just take off that rug before you go to bed so it doesn't slip down and suffocate you........G'Nite.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: sophocleese
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 01:31 PM

sian of west wales, your posting reminded me of what I hate most about public recitations of The Lord's Prayer. Everybody follows the same rise and fall of inflection with absolutely no regard for the meaning of the words that are being said. Its like aerobics masquerading as dance. I rarely go to church but when I do and The Prayer is said I usually read it with expression and get strange looks from others for doing so. I


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: GUEST,Banjo Johnny
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 02:10 PM

I have always heard that the Welsh are good singers -- I hope it's true.

Here in the U.S.A. there seems to be a general suspicion that there is something faggy about a man who sings. At least an ordinary man -- nobody ever accused Elvis or Sinatra of it. I wonder where this notion began, or if it occurs in other countries.

== Johnny in OKC


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 08:56 PM

Well I didn't take the rug off - I'm too attached to it. It's the kind that sorta grows on you.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 09:01 PM

Bought a Rogaine franchise huh?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: Margaret V
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 09:53 PM

Well, I grew up in a Catholic church that only confirms what folks asserted earlier in this thread. It was so dismal; there were lots of different choirs, you know the children's choir (I was in that) and the so-called "folk group" for "Folk Mass" (my sister was in that) and the adult choir (my Dad was in that), and as dreadfully mediocre as all the choirs were, we were at least apparently among the living. The congregation (and it was a very large one, in a very large church) just seemed too mortified or too bored to open their mouths. As was described by Joe Offer, whenever my father would sing in the congregation people would stare. He thought it was critical to make a joyful noise, to use the gifts given to you, but I suspect many people thought he was showing off, and so I wonder if the not-singing thing is related to some Catholic notion of humility. Anyway I got my first serious opportunity for comparison when I was about 13 and started going to friends' barmitzvahs. I couldn't get over how incredibly comfortable and at ease and happy to sing and participate everybody was. Could the Catholic problem have something to do with the incredibly heirarchical nature of the church? Or that I was growing up at a time when people were still adjusting to Vatican II and couldn't quite convince themselves it was okay to participate with conviction and not somehow be questioning the authority of the priest? I sure don't know. Probably for every story of an unsinging Catholic church there is a story of a heartily singing one, so perhaps it's silly to try to make meaning of this. . . As for Sopholcleese's description of the Lord's Prayer, though, it's a dead-on depiction of my old church. Depending on how much of a cynic one is about religion, one might suggest two explanations. First, that the Church isn't particularly interested in having its members think independently about the meaning of the words, and thus encourages the mindless droning. . . second, that there is spiritual power in incantation, and the droning quality found in the way Catholics recite the prayer is in fact meditative and inducive to a mystical state of mind. Margaret


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: sian, west wales
Date: 20 Jul 00 - 04:49 AM

Banjo Johnny, I don't suppose, as individuals, the Welsh are any better singers than anyone else, but they've been raised in a communal mind-set which values singing, and music in general, so they're more supportive than some cultures ... perhaps? For instance, in our county (pop. 169,000) I couldn't begin to tell you how many choirs we have (three, plus brass band in my town alone) but the junior schools (ages 6-11) recently held the county music service concerts and fielded a 90 piece string orchestra, a 130 piece woodwind orch., plus a hybrid 30-piece harp/guitar/recorder group. The seniors (high-school-ish) did another concert series with similar numbers plus an 80 voice mixed choir. This in addition to the stuff that the schools do individually.

However, the schools (and churches / chapels) have also played a role in discouraging a lot of singers. Probably since Wesley, there's been a mind-set which demands the pearly tones of Western European pseudo-classical song. I know a lot of people who enjoy singing but won't because some teacher told them they weren't good enough. The problem then arises that you get less and less good singers with a traditional Welsh style. There's also evidence to suggest that we've lost a whole tradition of modal singing which, to the classical ear, sounded like an off-tune Dorian scale. Unfortunately, it had pretty well died out prior to the introduction of the phonograph, so I don't think we have any real evidence for reconstruction...

And Sophocleese, I wonder what you'd make of another Welsh tradition only found in far West Wales - Canu Pwnc (Text Singing). Congregations in one particular non-conformist denominations, set a text from the Bible which *everyone* learns (and I mean, like, entire chapters); then they come together on one particular Sunday and ... well ... chant the text. I've only heard recordings ... but they make your hair stand on end ...

sian


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing & Dancin
From: GUEST,Dorrance Dance Studio (Taylorsville, MD USA)
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 11:45 AM

I found this page, which must have been torn out by an early Baptist from a 1730 edition of True Singing and Dancing

John Wesley's Directions for Dancing
I. Learn the dance tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II. Dance them exactly as they are, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to dance them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

III. Dance 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.

IV. Dance lustily and with a good courage. Beware of dancing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your body with strength. Be no more afraid of your body now, nor more ashamed of its being seen, than when you danced the songs of Satan.

V. Dance modestly. Do not over dance, so as to be seen above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the movement; but strive to unite your moves together, so as to make one clear dance.

VI. Dance in time. Whatever time is played be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading dancers, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to dance too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and dance all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

VII. Above all dance spiritually. Have an eye to God in every move you make. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you dance, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your dancing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 09:54 AM

The Wesleys come from Epworth, North Lincs.

If you want to hear how the rest of Epworth sings, the folk club meets every other Wednesday at The Mowbray. Next meet 27 October!

(That's a pint you owe me Eric.)


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: LadyJean
Date: 22 Oct 10 - 11:50 PM

When I finally learned to drive, I took lessons from a Catholic lady who sang with her church choir. When I took my test, I tapes some songs from "Sing Lustily and With Good Courage" as a thank you for her. She loved them. How the world has changed.

I worked a flea market this summer. Some guy was there singing contemporary Christian music, in all it's whiney droning inanity. I wanted to ask him, what part of sing lustily and with good courage do you not understand?


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Subject: RE: John Wesley's Directions for Singing
From: GUEST,Old Vermin on Ubuntu
Date: 23 Oct 10 - 05:46 AM

I'd mostly agree about the contemporary Christian hymns, finding the 'happy-clappy' stuff wince-making and guitar-accompanied singer-songwritery works cringe-inducing.

'shine jesus shine' from Graham Kendrick seems to be an exception - very impressive hear for the first time with a choir at a friend's funeral.


Sidney Carter - Lord of the Dance?

John Rutter?

Peaked with West Gallery and again with R V-W? Had a Derbyshire pub carol taught by that devout atheist Lester Simpson and very good it is.


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