Is Your Singing a Shame?
Wm. E. Wallace
Is the singing in your services a shame? Is it less than inspiring and something short of uplifting? Is there considerable discouragement among the members due to the poor quality of the singing worship? Do the preacher's invitations flop due to a poorly led "song of encouragement?" Is the congregation where you attend adversely effected by a chronic condition of poor singing?
When it comes to arguments against the use of instrumental music in worship, we have logic and scripture on our side. But quite often we are defeated by the poor quality of congregational singing!
A Case History
When I was a teenage Marine, stationed in eastern North Carolina, my brother Wilson came to the area holding meetings. He preached in a special service in a school house in Washington, N. C. This is "Christian Church" country. In this service Wilson preached on the error of instrumental music in worship. Many from the "Christian Church" were present. Wilson did exceptionally well in building a logical and biblical case against the use of instruments in worship. But alas, his case against instrumental music was weakened by my song leading! I "led" the singing. I didn't know anything about music, singing, or leading singing and I stood before that crowd shaking, squeaking and hittin' on about every other note. So far as I know, there still is no church of Christ in Washington, N. C.!
I am sure denominational churches have their problems with off-key choir members and inexperienced pianists or organists. But the need for good music in churches of Christ is made ever more important due to our keen and legitimate opposition to instrumental music in worship. In this age of enlightenment, people notice the quality of congregational music as to its conformity or non-Conformity to "the 'way it's written."
Of course we must not overlook the more important feature of singing unto God, with melody in our hearts. But we can be assured that when singing is as it should be technically, brethren will be able to involve themselves spiritually.
We have had a problem at Belmont in Indianapolis with our singing. Our leaders were inexperienced and knew little about music as written in our song books. One or two who knew something about this kind of music were unskilled in congregational leadership.
Recently the elders decided to do something about the problem - they decided it was time to spend a little money and make whatever arrangements necessary. They called on James "Dudy" Walker, head of the music department at Florida College. Brother Walker came to Belmont for a three-week singing school - and the results were genuinely amazing! He took our "raw material" - half dozen men who were ready, willing, and able - and produced six good song leaders. In addition to this, other men were taught and encouraged - men who will eventually make song leaders. He also worked with the congregation as a whole and generated a great swell of enthusiasm.
This singing school was one of the great events in the history of Belmont and we are enjoying its fruits in better singing and continuing enthusiasm. Many churches have had singing schools with less spectacular results. Perhaps the song leaders were not willing, or were non-cooperative. Perhaps the teacher was not the man for the job. I have a feeling that some who teach singing schools ought to be doing something else.
Professional help like that represented by James "Dudy" Walker is what you need, if your singing is a shame. His salary and travel expenses for a two, three or four week school will be a small price to pay for the great results. Brother Walker is available from May I to September I for singing schools. Contact him, c/o Florida College. Temple Terrace, Florida. This may be the answer to your singing problem. Of course Brother Walker is not the only skilled music teacher - there are others. If your singing is a shame, get in touch with someone who can do the job! For the sake of the church's efficiency and morale!
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 2, p. 1