7 Rules for Singing (by John Wesley)

John and Charles Wesley worked together throughout Europe, impacting the lives of many thousands. The work of their poetic pen, however, has had the greatest reach, extending decades beyond their earthly pilgrimage. Here we share the “Directions for Singing” that were given by John Wesley. We find them as relevant today as the moment they were inked.

1. Learn these tunes before you learn any others, afterwards learn as many as you please.

2. 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.

3. Sing all – see that you join 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 a blessing.

4. Sing lustily – and with 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 sang the songs of Satan.

5. 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 melodious sound.

6. Sing in time – whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before and do not stay behind it; but attend closely 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 among us and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

7. 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
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 when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.


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1 comment

Good to read these regulations from the great composer of most of the wonderful lyrics we find on the pages of church hymnals. This means we have no business trying to modify the tunes indiscriminately as is done in many churches today. Thanks so much for reminding us that it is to be SUNG not MADE INTO MUSIC INSTRUMENTALLY.

Jojo Paintsil

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