John Wesley & David Crowder SMACKDOWN

As some of you know, John Wesley included this instruction in his “Directions For Singing” that prefaces every Methodist hymnal:

Sing [these hymns] exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

Someone on our staff read that and said, “He’s a bit pretentious, isn’t he?” Actually, I’ve cleaned up the observation a bit to make it blog-suitable.

Anyway, David Crowder had much the same response upon reading Wesley’s instructions. Because John Wesley told him he couldn’t alter one of his hymns, Crowder did. And not just any hymn; he revised what is in many ways the Wesleyan hymn, O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing.

Here’s Crowder teaching the song and then explaining his rationale for modernizing parts of it. The interview picks up at about 2:00 in, and is worth the wait for the fun it pokes at Methodist pretension:

So whether it is hymnody or ministry, be careful of taking yourself too seriously.

And of forbidding people from doing things they otherwise might not have considered doing.