John Wesley’s “Directions for Singing”: Methodist Hymnody as an Expression of Methodist Beliefs in Thought and Practice

Clarke, Martin (2009). John Wesley’s “Directions for Singing”: Methodist Hymnody as an Expression of Methodist Beliefs in Thought and Practice. Methodist History, 47(4) pp. 196–209.

URL: http://archives.gcah.org/xmlui/handle/10516/207

Abstract

John Wesley's "Directions for Singing" was included as an appendage to Select Hymns: with Tunes Annext (1761), a collection of hymn texts and tunes designed for congregational use across the Methodist Connexion. Although a list of only seven brief points, it reveals much about the way in which Wesley desired music to be used in Methodist worship and the benefits that he believed could be reaped from its effective use. Carlton Young suggests that the "Directions" represent "Wesley's attempts to standardize hymn singing performance and repertory," which is borne out by their publication together with the tunes of Select Hymns, which Wesley advocated as authentically Methodist. The full significance of these instructions can only be understood when they are considered in relation to the theological and doctrinal position of Methodism, while they need to be assessed alongside Select Hymns and other collections of tunes used within Methodism in order to evaluate their impact. They highlight the importance Wesley attached to Select Hymns, while also offering more general practical advice, before concluding with a reminder of the purpose of congregational singing: ...

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