Thursday, October 24, 2013

Singing from Memory

As a youth, hymn singing was the only thing I liked about the church services I was strongly urged to attend. Given the chance to join in a rousing rendition of “Onward Christian Soldiers” or “Amazing Grace,” I could belt it out with the best of them.

Nowadays, advancing age and COPD have reduced my vocal offerings to something perhaps best described as croaking. Also, I've been attending People’s Church, a Unitarian-Universalist congregation, for only a couple of years—only long enough to learn a few words of  hymns featured there. So when I visit People’s, my musical contribution is minimal to say the least.

Last Sunday, a mature man I’d never seen before took the vacant seat beside me. He sang all three hymns perfectly. He knew every word. He knew each melody. I was amazed.

When the service was over, I told him how impressed I was with his singing. Then we introduced ourselves. Harold Beu said, “Those hymns are easy for me. I’m a retired UU minister.”

We had a nice chat. I’m convinced Rev. Beu could teach me a lot about belief systems. I’m equally certain he could never teach me how to sing hymns the way he does.


Kay said...

The COPD must make belting out a song difficult, but the main thing is your enjoyment and the peace you get from singing, don't you think? I would love to hear you sing.

Anonymous said...

My Mom was our choir director and organist, so I was drafted to sing in the choir, but never had any real talent. When I married David, we attended the Episcopal Church where I learned many hymns I had never sung while growing up Catholic, such as 'A Mighty Fortress is Our God,' written by Martin Luther..

David sung in the choir for years, and I loved to hear his beautiful tenor voice. Alas, his singing has subsided and at age 84 he no longer even hums a tune. The little bit of voice I had died when I had a stroke. Growing older is unkind to our vocal cords. Your UU minister friend is fortunate he can still carry a tune. Dianne

PiedType said...

The music was the only thing I ever enjoyed about church. I was raised Presbyterian and attended a rather large church, with soaring ceiling, giant organ, great acoustics, and a large choir and congregation. I can't carry a tune in a basket, but in the midst of all that, I didn't have to.

Anonymous said...

As a child I mimed my way through Sunday school and a Church of England 'high school'. I still can't sing a note !

jhawk23 said...

I'm in your boat, Dick, but a different deck -- I'm not sure how to rate my singing voice, and my memory for words may be OK, but I could never carry a tune and have not much of an ear for tonal differences.

Funny, though, how many, many of my "mature adult" friends sing in choirs. Apparently, many folks do possess talents in this line.

Tom Sightings said...

B goes to church all the time; I hardly ever go. She sings loud and clear; I mumble. B's got me covered.