But mostly dying. Also in 4/4, 2/4, and 6/8.
I’ve been a church-goer for decades now, and thought I’d seen everything. But yesterday I attended church (no, it wasn’t my home ward and I won’t tell you where) and saw something I have never seen before. We sang Hope of Israel for the opening hymn and during the song I noticed that a man on the pew in front of me was starting to fall asleep. There was the unmistakable drooping of the head and fluttering of the eyelids, and finally, just as we were singing “Hope of Israel, rise in might!”, his chin rested peacefully on his chest and he was off to dreamland. At first I felt sorry for him. Poor guy, probably worked a double shift yesterday and is worn out. But the ward was singing the hymn so slowly and so horribly that I eventually envied him that he was asleep and didn’t have to listen to the communal caterwauling we call congregational singing.
Why do we do such a bad job with our hymns? Why do we sing so slowly? It sounds like an LP record being played with the turntable set to the wrong speed. At the top of the page in the hymnal we can read instructions for how the hymn is supposed to be sung, and we can see words like “joyfully” or “with spirit”. And yet, we sing as though we’ve never in our lives experienced joy or enthusiasm.
Memo to organists and conductors: When people in your congregation need a double shot of Red Bull just to make it through the opening hymn, ur doing it rong.