Our minister was about to begin an evangelistic effort. The hall was rented in an ideal place, and the church members had given assurance of co-operation. Invitations and handbills were printed by the hundred, and the church was organized to scatter them everywhere. Prayers ascended to God that honest souls would find the way to eternal life. The church choir would have a very definite part to perform toward the success of the effort. What a power and influence for God the choir can be when singing to His glory !
As director of the choir, I was asked to assist in the music of the effort in a very definite way. The evangelist desired that on certain specified nights the choir should put on a musical program of five or six numbers preceding the lecture. This would mean extra practice ; so I asked the choir to plan to be at the hall at six-fifty-five each Sunday night. What could I say to the choir that might help to inspire them to faithfulness and consecration on their part during the time of the effort ?
The choir had been faithful and co-operative and loyal in the past, but I felt that the purpose of our singing should be kept before them continually. The blessings of the past are encouraging, but they cannot suffice for the present and future. We must keep close to God daily, determined to give Him our best through each day of service that He permits us to have. I myself felt deeply the wonderful privilege of having a part in soul-saving music. They, too, must see it.
With a prayerful heart I stood before them, ready to make my appeal. "Suppose," I said to them, "that for every night you come promptly to sing for the meetings I should present you with a ten-dollar bill ? How many of you would miss ?" Smiles wreathed their faces. Ten dollars would be an inducement, indeed ! I continued, "Suppose you knew that by your faithfulness in the ministry of song, you would find souls saved in the kingdom of God? Would you be equally faithful ?" It was a solemn question, and the moral is obvious. The value of souls saved in God's kingdom cannot be measured in dollars and cents. TO be able to have a part in it is riches indeed ! Surely they wanted a part in it, and they assured me of their determination to do their part. I appealed to them to meet our appointments on time, and to notify me when they found it necessary to be absent. I told them that I would count on them in this respect, and I have received the best of support. Wind, rain, snow—come what may—the choir is faithful. If one is tardy, he explains why to me. I expect loyalty and receive it.
We talked over the desirability of giving ourselves a name, deeming it best not to use the name Seventh-day Adventist because of the prejudice it might create in the minds of some who might otherwise come and learn the truth. So we decided on the name, "Gospel News Choir," and it has turned out to be a wise choice. We rehearse on the stage of the hall, with the curtain drawn across the stage, just before the curtain is drawn back, revealing us to the public, we have earnest prayer for God to bless our singing, and to bless our minister and each listener. God has heard and answered.
We endeavor to sing songs in harmony with the message of the evening. This is especially true of the number just before the lecture, and of the one at the close. They should fit in well with the subject in hand. Our evangelist often suggests a certain number that he would like sung, and we are glad to co-operate. We find that hymns, beautifully and prayerfully sung, are especially adaptable to evangelistic singing. Much variety can be worked into them with solo, duet, quartet, humming, etc. We have worked as long as half an hour on a simple hymn so as to sing it with beauty and clearness. As a result of proper practice, hymns can mean much more to the listener. Words should be clearly enunciated. Expression also should be carefully studied. Here is a sample or two of our Sunday night "concerts."
Choir: "Sweet Peace, the Gift of God's Love" (second stanza sung as a duet)
Ladies' Octette: "What Heaven Means to Me"
Solo: "My Faith in Thee"
Choir: "Under His Wings" (second verse as a solo, while choir hums)
Choir: "I Want to See Jesus, Don't You?" (one stanza as a solo)
Duet with Choir "God's Way Is the Best Way" Girms' TRIO: "He's Just the Same Today."
Male Quartet: "Two Ways for Travelers" CHota : "Some Blessed Day" (solo on one stanza)
Choir: "Shall I Crucify My Saviour ?" (male unison on two stanzas, with sopranos singing tenor, softly)
The work of the choir in evangelistic meetings can be heaven born. What a wonderful privilege ! May the Lord help us as directors to see with clearness the responsibility and privilege that is ours. Until probation closes, there will be work for us to do. Let us never grow weary in well doing.