A Note to the Congregation

The Lord commands us to sing to him in worship, so whether or not we enjoy singing, we must all do it to the glory of God. Here are some suggestions to improve your singing (and make it more enjoyable):

  1. If you know, prior to the service, which hymns will be sung, study the words, think about their meaning, speak them out loud (if possible), and look up any unfamiliar words, so that you will be able to sing with understanding (1 Cor. 14:15). This will enable you to focus your mind on God during the singing.
  2. Carefully follow the punctuation of the poetry when singing. Breathe with commas, periods, and semicolons; don’t breathe at the end of a musical line, if there is no punctuation mark. This will add greatly to your comprehension of the text.
  3. Be aware of your posture. Stand or sit tall, so that you will be able to take in a full breath of air.
  4. Take in a big breath before singing, with shoulders relaxed (diaphragmatic breath).
  5. Open your mouth tall for vowels. Singing is elongating the vowels of speech, so open vowels are very important, and will greatly improve your sound! Exaggerate your enunciation of consonants to help others understand what you are singing.
  6. Hold your hymnbook at a height at which you can see the words without looking down. This will keep your instrument (your voice) pointing forward, instead of down to the floor, greatly improving your sound.
  7. If you are able, sing the alto, tenor, or bass part. This adds richness to the congregational singing.
  8. Finally, don’t worry about what others may think of your singing. Whether you are classically trained or consider yourself monotone, God wants you to sing. Your voice will blend with all the voices now and through eternity to bring praise to our God. Singing is one of our few corporate activities during worship. And remember that our singing here on earth is a rehearsal of what we will be doing in heaven forever!

Timothy and Lou Ann Shafer
Musicologist and Music Editor, Trinity Psalter Hymnal