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.