In his book The Singing Thing, John Bell of the Iona community in Scotland suggests eleven reasons we sing. Among these are to:
- express emotion tell stories
- be creative
- obey God’s command to “sing a new song to the Lord”
- be in community
In a recent blog post, composer Grant Charles Chaput offers a physiological explanation: "When we sing our bodies are the instruments; we are…viscerally connected to the music. And by virtue of singing in an ensemble, we are connected to one another.”
Our own voices are silent much of the time during worship services. We listen to one voice sharing God’s Spirit through prayers, preaching, teaching, storytelling and meditations. This is wonderful, for we have so much to learn from one another.
But when we sing as a group in worship, we become the prayers, preaching, teaching, storytelling and meditations. When we sing together in worship, we feel the joy of the Spirit in our song and we share that communal joy. We reinforce our sense of community.
And there are other benefits to singing in community. A recent study in England found that people who sing in groups experience increased confidence, reduced stress, increased social contact (naturally) and many people have been able to cut back on dosages of prescription medications!
So for the sake of our spiritual and physical health, let us heed Paul’s admonition: “Sing! Sing your hearts out to God!” (Colossians 3:16, The Message)
Image: Choir of Angels, Gozzoli (c. 1460)