Thursday, December 04, 2008


I have a prodigious soprano. Untrained, rusty from disuse, but high and clear when I get good and warmed up. It's a golden gift and I use it a lot, mostly in the shower. Or when I'm doing dishes. Or when I'm walking the dog. Or driving in the car. Sometimes--even at work, dodging spools of thread and (closed) safety pins from my unappreciative audience.

Oh God, how I love to sing. Half of the reason I love being Methodist is because we sing a lot. Did you know John Wesley wrote a list of suggestions for singing in a congregation? It's in the front of the Methodist hymnal...

1. 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 a blessing.

2. 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 it being heard, then when you sing the songs of Satan.

3. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, 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.John Wesley

4. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before, not stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can. And take care you sing not 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.

5. 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 of here, and reward when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

I only hope that Wesley wouldn't consider Sondheim "songs of Satan" because in that case we have a problem.

And I love singing the Messiah. It's a piece built for my voice. A choir with a hundred and fifty people so I can belt out those lovely fortes without standing apart, yet I get covered up whenever I get lost in the runny bits. Lots of high notes, lots of little dancing pieces leading up to moving chords that clash and resolve in the most satisfying manner. And the words. Sometimes it's easy to forget when you're dealing with a technically difficult passage that this music is written to glorify the when we finally rehearsed the whole thing straight through tonight I was caught unawares. How satisfying to use this gift, this prodigious soprano, to say thank you to the giver. To join with the multitude in celebration.

Our concert is on Saturday, and I am really looking forward to it. REALLY looking forward to it. Oh how I love to sing. Now that the militia is done for the season and the evening programs don't have me on the schedule until January, I'm going to go back to the choir. I didn't realise how much I missed it.

MESSIAH will be performed this Saturday, the 6th, at 5pm at Williamsburg United Methodist's a free performance and all are welcome. I don't know how many "locals" read my blog but if you do--I'd love to see you there!

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