I had no idea this was such a huge issue, but over the last two weeks I have been made painfully aware I am a grievous sinner, just short of a puppy killer.
There are a few hymns in the hymnbook where the notes in the bass clef disappear, and only the treble carries the song. Now, I’m not a great sight reader and while my ear is good its not great, so I usually don’t sing the bass part in the hymn book unless I’m sure I will sing it right (whereas it seems to me 90% of the men in church think singing along on the lowest possible note their voice is capable of producing is equivalent to singing the bass part). Usually, I sing the melody anyway, because it helps me feel more like I’m part of the song and the congregation.
I always figured that, if I was singing the melody, It was okay to actually sing the melody. Congregation singing is not a strict four part SATB choir, after all.
However, for the last few weeks, there has been (for whatever reason) several songs where the bass clef vanishes. I assumed this meant if I was singing the tenor or bass parts, I dropped out. But since I was singing the melody, it was okay to keep singing. Apparently not. I have been informed by nasty looks and rude comments (from women in the congregation) that this means the men drop out entirely. No men singing at all.
In some hymns, this means up to a third of the message isn’t meant to apply to the male gender, I guess. Why do they want to exclude us? And why is it so wrong? If we were singing in ward choir, I might understand, but I really don’t get it for congregation singing.