Singing in a church choir was a duty to be taken seriously in 1887, at least if you belonged to the choir of First Methodist Episcopal Church in Springfield.
The photos below spell out all the rules. But singers had a reason to pay attention: First Methodist choir members were paid (the amount is unknown).
The rules also make it clear that, if a singer could not attend a performance, he or she had to find an acceptable substitute. That was important because the choir was made up of only four members – usually two women, a soprano and a contralto, and two men, a tenor and a bass. The membership changed from time to time, but as of Nov. 4, 1887, according to the Illinois State Register, the choir consisted of “Mrs. Prof. Lehmann, soprano; Mrs. Wellman, contralto; Mr. Munroe, tenor; and Ralph Matheny, basso.” Ella Celchner was organist.
The Rev. William N. McElroy (1832-1913) was pastor from 1886 to 1890. First Methodist Episcopal had dedicated its new church at Fifth Street and Capitol Avenue the year before the rules were written.
Today, the congregation, now known as First United Methodist Church, worships at 2941 S. Koke Mill Road.
Hat tip: To Steve Beilstein, chair of the Historical Council at First United Methodist Church, for bringing the choir rules to our attention.
Original content copyright Sangamon County Historical Society. You are free to republish this content as long as credit is given to the Society.