Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 4, 1968
NUMBER 47, PAGE 9b-10

We Need More Singing Schools

Holland L. Boring, Sr.

A Singing School, as we look at it, is a school conducted by the church, of some five or ten days or nights, in which rudiments of music are taught, along with a number of song drills, in a pleasant Christian environment. Singing Schools are not new. They have been conducted by Christians and non-Christians through the years. Their effectiveness is evident. It would seem wise to study the values to be derived from these schools; and in the light of the scriptures, design schools best suited to the situation in which we find ourselves. It does not take a musician to realize that there is a need for such training in every congregation.

Singing Schools in the past placed more stress on note reading and less emphasis on good singing. Many of the newer types omit note reading, and stress the words and interpretation of a song. Both types are needed. We are interested in good singing, but this cannot be assured with any degree of continuity without some knowledge of the techniques that make it so. A combination of the types, placing emphasis where it is needed most, is our procedure.

The command to sing with understanding (I Cor. 14:15) carries with it the idea of learning something about music. One must be taught. Teaching mem-- bers of the church to sing well is essential to the enjoyment of obeying God's command. Some members can afford to take private lessons, and some get help from our public schools; but members of the church need to be trained together in order to offer up acceptable praise, devotion, admonition with the "fruit of the lips." Church music has a quality that is rarely recognized or excelled by any other type of singing. There is no other means of coming to realize the excellencies of A Cappella singing except as we teach ourselves, using efficient Christian teachers.

A Singing School has many possibilities; yet we must not expect to accomplish too much at first. Maybe we should think of them more as we do a training course for teachers, or a personal worker's class. As important as these are, all will not respond; but whether few or many attend these schools, much good can be done. A school each year with a number of drills in between will go far in making the church a singing church. A singing church can be a good working church. A working church must become a good singing church lest it be lacking in a very essential ingredient to insure its continued success in working for the Master. We are not ready to win the work for Christ until we become a good singing church.

There is a shortage of good song leaders. I visited a congregation several years ago that had twenty-one. Now they have to hire some one to lead them in singing. They are fortunate in being able to do that. Our membership is constantly changing. We could increase the supply of good song leaders if churches would have more schools. One aim of the school should be to train song leaders along with the congregation they lead.

Schools like the Haskell Singing Normal, Haskell, Texas and the Texas Normal Singing School, Sabinal, Texas offer intensive courses in song leading. Churches should send their best prospects to these schools; and when they return, use them that they may continue to develop. This can be mutually beneficial.

For the common good, the Singing School should co-ordinate all the efforts of the workers in a congregation. Rudiments, spiritual expression, voice, and musical vocabulary are things all members of the church can learn and profit by. The more one knows about singing, the more one will enjoy and appreciate worship.

A Singing School that stresses what to sing, how to sing, and the value and the importance of good singing should do much to build up respect for the Bible and the Lord's church. It is always helpful to have a teacher to spend some time with us, one who can demonstrate and apply such skills that are essential to a better musical understanding and appreciation. Equal opportunities are provided for every member of the church to learn and participate. Interest is always stimulated when true worship is experienced. The association in a common interest to sing acceptably without the aid of Mechanical Instruments is a challenge worthy of those who believe that God's way is better than man's way; and the tragic experiences of meeting for worship where there is little or no singing may be avoided.

Singing is worship, and all Christians are expected to have a part in it. No one can rightly say how much joy, emotional and intellectual, that singing has contributed to the livability of a Christ-like life; but it is easy to guess that much contention and misunderstanding can be traced directly to the attitude which expresses itself in a lack of respect for this command to sing. Despite the differences that may seem to prevail among us, good singing can contribute to the concept of Christian unity, for much loving is essential to singing in "spirit and in truth." Those who walk without love must strain their eyes in the darkness. Such eyestrain can contribute to a lack of congeniality.

Brethren need to realize that singing is a part of the Christian culture and not an isolated fragment. It has been my hope to stimulate a greater understanding and appreciation for gospel singing. One could hardly think of a better way to understand the heart of God's people than by listening to them sing. One could hardly think of a better way to contribute to the joy of a fellow Christian than by teaching him to appreciate good singing. Singing has a universal quality, to be sure; but it can become one of the Christian's most cherished possessions whether he learns to express himself in creative writing or understands and expresses what others have written.

Singing plays a part in the activities of the church; it is a divine means of wedding the minds, wills, and feelings of the Christian in worship in a form that permits group participation. It is God's means of lifting the thoughts, sentiments, and emotions of His followers to a high plane where their souls can merge with God, and can truly sing to His glory. "Our God is great, and greatly to be praised ...sing ye praises with understanding."

Box 463, Rosebud, Texas 76570