John Wesley’s Directives for Congregational Singing
John Wesley (1703–1791), one of the founders of the Methodist movement in the Church of England, issued these directives concerning congregational singing in 1761:
Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.
Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you are half-dead or half-asleep, but lift up your voice with strength. Be not afraid of your voice nor ashamed of its being heard.
Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, but strive to unite your voices together so as to make one clear melodious sound.
Sing in time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from among us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.
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 of.