Is it any wonder we sing?
May 10, 2018
A song came out on Christian radio several years ago called “Great Are You, Lord,” by the group Phillips, Craig, and Dean. I’ve been meditating on these words lately:
“The beauty of your majesty, and displayed for all the world to see, is it any wonder? Is it any wonder? The glory of your holiness, the mercy of your faithfulness, is it any wonder? Is it any wonder? We sing, great are you Lord for we adore you, life us your name, and fall before you, we stand in awe and sing, great are you Lord. We life up our voice, we sing holy, holy, holy, Hallelujah to the one and only, forever more we’ll sing, great are you Lord.”
Is it any wonder we sing? Music enables us to powerfully express our deepest thoughts, feelings, and our spirituality. It gives “oomph” to the words we think and the prayers we say. Singing is a natural response to the work of God in the world. And, it is God himself who gives us the gift of song, in order that we might praise him.
But, you might say, I can’t sing! You don’t want to hear my voice. I can’t carry a tune. I don’t know that song. This music isn’t my style. I’m not good enough.
Can we explore that for a bit? Believe it or not, experts agree that singing is not a talent that some people have and others don’t. Singing is not just for the artsy people, of for those with “good” voices. Rather, it is a skill that anyone can develop. Sure, some people are more “natural” at it than others – just like most people on the planet are better football players than myself. But the fact is, if you have the ability to speak, you have the ability to sing. Yo might just need to practice. For the average church-goer, Mass provides all the practice you need to be able to pray and praise God, the giver of song.
I have two tips for developing your church-singing comfortably: 1) be grateful, and 2) sing like no one -but God – is listening.
Let’s look at the first one: be grateful. Take a look around your world – even in the most dire of circumstances, most of us can find something to be grateful for: the gift of sunshine, a meal, warm clothing, and act of love from a family member or friend. Thank God for it! Led your thanks flow out of your heart in a true and abundant way. Expressing your gratitude to God for his work in your life acknowledges that He is the one who is provident, that He is the one who is taking care of you and sustaining you. Sing out your praise: Great are you Lord!
Secondly: sing like no one – but God – is listening. Decades ago, before television and recorded music were widely available, families entertained themselves by gathering around and singing together. Since it is so easy these days to listen to someone else sing or play an instrument, I suspect most people view music only as a spectator sport or a performance, as if only a few “talented” people are capable of it. This leads them to feel self-conscious about their singing voice. However, when we truly see music as a highly expressive form of communicating to and about God, it doesn’t matter what we sound like, as long as we are doing our vest. Don’t worry about other people judging your singing voice. If they are singing too, chance are you are bonding rather than competing.
I want to leave you with one last thought. The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek word leitourgia, which means “the work of the people.” The Mass is your prayer! Music is not just an add-on to the prayer of the Mass, it is integral to it. Just as you wouldn’t refuse to recite the spoken prayers of the Mass, don’t refuse to sing as a community. Unite your song with that of your brothers and sisters in Christ, so we can worship God as one body! Se aside your inhibitions about singing, be grateful, and the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest!
About the Author
Amee Heigl is the Director of Music at St. Patrick’s. She has a degree in Liturgical Music from The College of St. Benedict, and brings lots of energy as we build our music program. Amee is married with four sons.