A couple of times a year, I find myself getting roped into singing in the church choir. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I don’t enjoy belting out the odd tenor line from time to time. I can even cope – just – with the early Sunday morning practices. It’s just that, even with the bribery of fresh coffee involved, I never know exactly why I’m there, and how to conduct myself appropriately – i.e., in a manner worthy of a church chorister – when I am there. So it was no small thing when I discovered one Sunday morning, sticking out from among old songbooks shoved behind the largely-abandoned organ, that our church’s choir actually has some time-honoured ‘rules’ and ‘hints’. It would seem that these ‘rules’ and ‘hints’ have been lovingly authored by a certain Mr W. Paget Gale (the one-time organist and choirmaster) and Mr W. S. Mitchell (the one-time secretary and treasurer of the choir), and that under the holy guidance of the Rev A. C. W. Standage, M. A. To be sure, the august rabble with whom I am periodically gathered to sing carols, hymns and spiritual songs seem, at least in light of these ‘rules’, to be the most antinomian of Presbyterians. But, to be fair, they probably haven’t ever had presented to them Mr Gale’s and Mr Mitchell’s
riot act ‘Rules of the Church Choir’.
So, without further ado, here they are:
I’ll consider it my mission to make these wise and life-giving practices of grace clear to our current choir mistress; one who is, by every measure, extremely talented, but who is herself clearly a little sloppy when it comes to doing choir ‘decently and in order’ – not that she has an easy crew to work with!