The Power of Unison Hymn Singing
Our introduction to the concept of a ten-minute hymn singing time was a wonderful experience. Our music director was masterful in her work. She prepared extensively each week to bring forth a meaningful and worshipful experience. Then came the dreaded question, I am leaving on vacation next week. Would you do the hymn singing time?
This was a challenging request and although we felt unsure of ourselves with this assignment, we accepted and began preparing. Earlier in the month we had completed a vocal solo arrangement of Come Unto Jesus and wondered, "Would it work combining a soloist with the congregation singing in unison?" After a lengthy discussion, we decided to try it.
Sunday came and we began the hymn-singing time. The first hymn was Our Savior’s Love. This hymn was comforting and instrumental in establishing a special feeling in the meeting. Then it was time for Come Unto Jesus. It took just a minute to explain what was going to happen, and then we started.
The soloist sang the first verse, setting a beautiful example for the congregation. On the second verse, everyone sang in unison. Again the soloist sang the third verse, with everyone joining on the fourth verse.
The entire hymn was sung with great feeling. The congregation easily stretched phrases with us. It was a special experience. Reverence with understanding prevailed.
At the conclusion of the hymn, the congregation was very still. No one moved. No one spoke. There was a hush throughout. No one wanted to move for fear of disturbing the feeling.
Later that afternoon, we noted that as the congregation sang in unison, it felt as if they were holding hands and in unity (oneness) expressed humble praise to the Lord. We also felt what had occurred was one of those very special moments not easily captured again.
However, through other opportunities, we soon learned that this experience and the same familiar feelings could and would be felt again and again.
Sometimes the feelings were stronger than other times but they always came. Beautiful reoccurrences in the spirit through hymn singing has allowed us to feel those peaceful feelings over and over again.
Unison hymn singing makes it possible for the congregation to concentrate on the spirit and message of the hymn rather than reading the music. We also found ‘non singers’ joining in because they felt comfortable singing the melody with everyone else.
This was a most happy and worshipful experience. We are continuing to use special musical numbers that involve the entire congregation.
Our hope in relating this experience will encourage you to work with the hymns from time to time in this manner, and discover for yourself the power of unison hymn singing. It works!