My favorite part of any church service is the music.
Even when the music is poorly done — which all too often it is — it has power to inspire, teach, and heal.
That said, I would like some changes to the music section of the handbook. If I were in charge, here are the rules I’d implement:
- Hymns must be sung at a decent speed. Listless tempos are absolutely forbidden.
- Music directors who drag the hymns will be beaten with a conductor’s baton
People must sing. No free agency here – singing is required! Love at Home cannot be sung on Mother’s Day. Ever. If sung, a ward will run the risk of mothers running screaming from the chapel during the guilt-provoking line about roses blooming beneath their feet. (I, for one, have always felt roses blooming beneath my feet would be painful, given the thorns.) Tremolo needs to be turned off on the organ. Save the vibrato for sopranos over the age of 75.
- O My Father must be sung at least once a quarter, since it is the most acceptable way to address one of Mormonism’s unique doctrines, that of Mother in Heaven.
- One song per meeting must be about Christ. The sacrament song doesn’t count.
- If the organ has chimes, they must be used when I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is sung.
- All voices are loved and welcomed, even those that are loud, ugly, operatic, nasal, breathy, or absolutely out of tune on every note.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing will be put back in the hymnbook. Hymns need not be limited to the requisite opening, sacrament, and closing. Nobody would die if a meeting included four or five hymns. Testimony meetings can contain musical numbers.
- Hymns should be accompanied on occasion by trumpets, french horns, saxophones, guitars, and other instruments usually deemed unholy and inappropriate.
All verses of the hymns will be sung. Yes, all of them, even those verses written at the bottom of the page which are usually ignored.
- Amazing Grace, the most beloved of all Christian hymns, will be added immediately to the hymnbook.
People who talk loudly during the prelude music will be assigned to scrub all the toilets in the building after the three-hour block. All of the 29 official sacrament songs in the hymnbook should be sung, even the mostly ignored O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown (one of the best of the bunch). · Music-only sacrament meetings are not only allowed, they are highly encouraged.
- All the hymns in the book should be sung, not just the old chestnuts. The only possible exception is The World Has Need of Willing Men, which never needs to be sung again.
If the choir director sees fit, and has a choir that can do it, motets by Mozart, Palestrina, or other great composers can be sung in church – in Latin. (Gasp!) And last, let’s stand up when we sing.
Those are a few of my new rules for church music. What are yours?