Our Church Singing

Some time ago I read in The Christian Science Monitor an interesting and helpful article on "Keeping Time in Congregational Singing." It has been my privilege and pleasure to attend several Christian Science churches, and I was impressed by the heartiness with which the congregation sang, and also in some instances by the lack of time. In every congregation there are many good singers, also those who can readily read music and who know better than to take the time from one note and put it on another. For instance, in our beautiful Communion Hymn,—"Saw ye my Saviour?" (Hymnal, p. 212),—the last three measures are often sung so much more slowly than the rest of the hymn that the beautiful, flowing melody of these measures is sacrificed. "Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well."

Our beloved Leader tells us that to understand Christian Science we must "study thoroughly the letter and imbibe the spirit" (Science and Health, p. 495); and so it should be with our church singing, which is such an important part of the service. Time makes tune. What would the hymn "In atmosphere of love divine" mean to us, or "Eternal Mind the Potter is" (Hymnal, pp. 84, 98) and many other dear old favorites, if sung out of time? Time is one thing and tempo another; and no matter how slow or fast the tune or a certain measure is sung or played, the time should not change. Also let us remember that holds, rests, and dots have a certain time or significance that goes to make up the beautiful, harmonious, and perfect whole.

The congregation should listen to and sing with the organ, and then they will not need a "precentor with his baton," or an "electrical device" of any kind, to make them keep in time or rhythm. To quote again from the Monitor: "If after the organ has played the music through in correct rhythm, the congregation takes it up in exactly the same time . . . there will be unanimity without these devices." In I Corinthians we read: "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

Angel Reapers
May 22, 1915

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.