Singing together…expanding the landscape of the heart
One of the reasons I chose my profession over others was because I loved to sing. But more than just loving to sing, I loved to sing with others, especially when it involved hymns. As a young child, I was immersed in the great four-part Lutheran hymn singing tradition. It was both mystical and robust and it made a lasting impression on me. And though I didn’t realize it in my youth, it was something that I physically felt and profoundly holy experience. I still do today.
When we sing together, we are actually physically joining together on one sound wave, sharing the same harmonic series of pitches. It’s a physics thing. When we sing together we are participating in a community building activity; a form of meditation, of proclamation, and of prayer. Singing isn’t just using (or trying to use) our voices, but it involves our whole body: our mind, our spirit, and our voice. It is a beautiful and holy thing.
Former Professor of Church Music at VTS, Carol Doran says it best:
Again and again . . . we discover how people respond with power to what is beautiful. We are not talking here about aesthetes thrilling to a precious experience, but a heartfelt response of people glimpsing something of the wonder of God through the rhapsodic prose of inspired human expression.
This beauty, this holy act of singing hymns together – combining that which was created by us with God-given talents and returned to God on the wings of song in our divine worship – was not lost on me as a child even though I wasn’t able to articulate or fully understand it then (or even now). And I suspect it is not lost on our children in worship today. I see the looks in our Choristers’ eyes when our Nave swells with our songs of prayer and praise. It is transforming them, nurturing their faith. And if I could see your eyes in the Nave, I am sure I could see the power of beauty transforming you, too.
Carol Doran continues:
Beauty is one of the transcendental realities of God and a primary means by which God draws us to what is true and good.
...[W]e aim to expand the landscape of the heart. After all, is that not why we love singing hymns? -- because when we give ourselves to God in songful praise we see visions of how much more God made us to be than we are, and in that moment of eternal perspective we are opened to being the agents of God's justice and love.
I leave you with this beautiful hymn of Thomas Troeger:
We need each other’s voice to sing,
each other’s strength to love,
each other’s views to help us bring
our hearts to God above.
Our lives like coals placed side by side
to feed each other’s flame,
shall with the Spirit’s breath provide
a blaze of faith to claim.
We give our alleluias
to the church’s common chord:
Praise, O praise, O praise the Lord!
~ Thomas Troeger
Soli Deo Gloria!
Ben Keseley, Minister of Music
We Need Each Other’s Voice – Thomas Troeger © 1994, Oxford University Press.
Reprinted with permission .OneLicense.net # A717214