I was in church yesterday (Was there a blue moon?) and a hymn came up I’d never heard. Having at one point had a reasonable singing voice and wanting to be a part of the congregation, I began singing. There’s a whole science to singing hymns you don’t know. The process made me think of my job as brand planner.
The first rule is use the hymnal, the music is in there and give you some cues about the song. If your church uses PPT to project words stay with the book. Second, let others sing first. Being a quarter second behind lets you follow the pacing. Third, listen to the notes. Listening first teaches you if they notes are high or low. Next, hear the rhythm of the song and learn where the word accents are — the double-ups, the pauses. Those give you a sense of the pattern of the hymn, and prepare you for the second, third and fourth stanzas.
Sing softly all the while. What you hear in your head, for some odd reason, comes out louder than you think. Attempt to harmonize. The goal is not only to sound like everyone else, but to make the collective sound better. Learn the song and make it better. Don’t end up trying to be a soloist.
In summation, actively listen, quietly participate, learn the rhythms, tones and patterns. Keep singing. As you get more familiar turn up the volume. Be harmonious. Then, go get a jelly donut. Peace!