1. Find the venue – where both beer and hymns can peacefully coexist
A pub or bar could be a good start, as it makes it that much easier to source the beer. Alternatively if you have a hall or other venue without a built-in bar, you can set up your own, just be sure you’re not contravening any licensing laws.
When approaching a pub or bar about holding your event there, be clear on how much disruption it may cause the usual punters. Beer & Hymns can be great fun, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
2. Recruit the musician(s) – someone who will accompany rather than lead
Beer & hymns comes from a tradition of communal singing, where the swell of sound from all people involved raises music to the heavens, rather than the voice of a lone singer on guitar at the front with the microphone.
That said, you may find it useful to have someone with a microphone start off the singing and come in on the verses, to keep momentum going. This is particularly useful if you have chosen hymns or songs that are less well known.
The musician or musical team should be ready to enjoy themselves. They may want to rehearse the accompaniment, but once it starts there’ll be no stopping the crowd. Expect to seek pleasure rather than perfection from the performance.
3. Select the hymns – both new and old, both lively and contemplative
Have an online poll, put out a suggestion box or just pick your own favourites (there are perks to being the organiser). Remember to vary the dynamic: it needs some oomph and some reflection – make time for fun hymns people can dance to as well as the slower ones.
4. Plan the service – it’s gotta have a beginning, a middle and an end
Start with a welcome, take time out during to celebrate being together, and build to a satisfying finish. You may want to include a reading, or even slot in a short sermon. One good way to end is with the grace, encouraging everyone to hold hands as they speak the words together.
“It takes a lot of planning to feel this spontaneous.”
Tim ‘the stout but not fat’ Landlord
5. Spread the word – the more people there, the merrier it will be
Do you know people who love drinking beer (or wine or cider or juice etc) and singing hymns? Do they know people who love drinking beer etc and singing hymns? Let them know this is happening, where and when.
If you’re having it at a public venue, ask if they will promote it for you. Put up posters; send out emails; post it online; you can even post your event details here or on the Beer & Hymns facebook group. Encourage people to vote for their favourite hymns to create a buzz about the event. And be sure to let people know there are alternatives to beer, just in case.
*Or why not invite the original Beer & Hymns team to lead your event? Get in touch to find out more.