READING!---Reading is an art—including the reading of 'Week of Prayer messages. When audience attention is deflected by dreary monotone, by failure to enunciate clearly, by mistakes and mispronunciations, or other reading faults, the effectiveness of the meSsage delivered is discounted 25 to 50 per cent. Laymen may be pardoned for stumbling along, but there is no excuse for professional speakers, public proclaimers of truth, ministers of the gospel. To cling to a handicap that cuts the effectiveness of one's public messages is more than merely regrettable. It is an affront to the audience or congregation, a deterrent to high efficiency, and an inexcusable handicap that can be corrected. It is like a violinist 'playing an instrument without first tuning up, and insulting the ears of the musically trained; like a surgeon performing a delicate operation with dull instruments ; or like a carpenter planing a board with a dull, nicked plane. The human voice is a wonderful instrument. It can be perfected and made pleasing, musical, flexible, and impressive. But it takes training, coaching, and practice. Go to a good voice teacher. Ascertain your defects, and then persist in correcting them until your voice becomes the instrument that it should be for the pleasing, forceful, effective conveyance of truth, a fitting medium for persuasion, and a channel for moving souls Godward.
WRITE!—Write out your thoughts to increase your clarity and precision of utterance, as well as your logic and sequence of reasoning. Writing points up, rounds out your thinking. It also brings to light the hidden weaknesses in your argument or presentation. It discloses unknown gaps in your study, the barren spots in your investigation, and the missing links in your chain of reasoning. So, to strengthen your mental processes and to augment your knowledge, write out your thoughts. (Caution: Do not try to publish all that you write. Write several items on a given theme and choose the best. Not all that anyone writes will be worthy of reproduction.) Again, try out your products on candid friends, who will frankly point out their weaknesses and fallacies. Thus you will grow as a writer. Never cease trying to improve. The more you write, the easier it should be to write, the more cogent will be your thinking, and the more forceful and characteristic your style. Do not seek to imitate someone else. Develop your own personality on paper. Write !
SACRED CONCERT!—My heart was a harp the other night, and the gospel singer in his sacred concert was a skilled harpist plucking its strings, bringing forth an answering melody in unison with fifteen hundred other hearts. It was an ideal sacred concert—sacred song at its best. It did something more than merely please or even edify. It awakened a tangible response. It was like a hallowed revival service in its effects. It lifted the soul Godward. Everyone said it was good to have been there. And what made it effective? It was the choice of songs, and their skilled rendition by a consecrated voice. They were simply and effectively done, with no ostentatious display. The selections were songs with a message, sacred lays with a purpose. Certain of the songs, as rendered, were sermons in miniature. There was sufficient variety, so that the audience did not tire. The songs were tuneful, and spoke to the heart as well as the head. They were well done, with just enough dramatic artistry and grace to make them winsome and effective. Give us more concerts of this kind that lift the soul heavenward. We need more real singers of the gospel. Effective gospel singing must come into its rightful place.
HANDICAPPED!—Dress has a reflex influence upon our own conduct, as well as the respect one is accorded, declares Emily Post, eminent writer on deportment and social custom, in a recent public-press release Sloppy dress makes for sloppy manners, she avers ; a gentleman is not likely to act. crudely at the table when he is properly dressed for dinner, she adds. Is there not a germ of truth here that we can apply to our own case as ministers? A minister garbed as a clergyman is not so likely to deport himself flippantly or unbecomingly in the pulpit. Tan shoes, colored socks, bright ties, striped suits, and even a colored shirt, tend to make a man common and secular in his speech, bearing, and deportment. He is secularized, handicapped, and cheapened at the outset. If we dress like businessmen, sports, or fops, we are likely to be treated as such by others. And why not? For our own sakes, for the sake of others, and for the sake of our high calling in the church, let us dress appropriately, and rightly represent our part as ministers of the gospel of God. Our people want us to look the part and act the part, and most of all to be in every sense ministers of the remnant church, witnessing to God's great judgment hour.
L. E. F.