I ran across this article, In 4 Sentences, John Wesley Teaches You How To Sing In Church, recently with an awesome quote from John Wesley.
“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 comes in the clouds of heaven.”
Since worship, music, and singing in church have pretty much always been an issue, I’m convinced they always will be. For those who truly care about getting it right, Wesley has great, timeless advice.
I’ve been going through Robert Morgan’s Near to the Heart of God devotional this year. Many of the hymns I’m not familiar with even though I grew up in a small, traditional church. (Our pianist only knew a few songs, so…)
Not knowing the melodies of these old songs makes it easier to focus on the words. For the hymns I am familiar with, I find myself trying to read and not sing the songs, to just put the melody aside. All that is fine for a quiet time with God, but how do we do that when the songs are actually being sung?
It will take much effort. The sound Wesley refers to could be music style or quality, both of which can be a distraction. We really do have to be committed to making our worship about God and not ourselves.
If your worship leader is selecting theologically sound songs, make a practice of focusing your heart on those words. “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.”
Remember, the words are what matter, not the melody, music, or performance.