Singing. It’s the thing Christians are longing to do again. We can meet to pray, hear God’s word taught, break bread together and even chat in small groups and that’s great but we can’t sing indoors and that is sad. Singing isn’t an added extra, the cherry on the top of our Sundae. No, scripture calls on us to sing God’s praise when we gather and we’re limited in how we do that. And that has implications, when we sing we sing truth to each other, we embed those truths deep in our memories so they resound in our souls during times of trouble.
I’ve lost count of the number of times when I’ve been at a hospital bedside and heard a suffering saint sing and draw comfort from the truths embedded in their hearts through music and learning sound lyrics. I’ve lost track of the times they have asked others to sing with them and the joy and hope it brings.
Not being able to sing has left us badly impoverished and I wonder about the long-term effects on our souls. So I’ve been thrilled to be able to sing outside since March. It’s not ideal, finishing the service indoors and then trudging outside to sing, but there is a joy in seeing unmasked faces and in hearing one another voices.
But it has also struck me how quickly we have got out of the habit of singing. We’re just not used to it. Voices that used to lift now feel a bit strangled, throats dry out more quickly, and even if we’ve been singing at home in the kitchen or along to a live stream we’ve lost some of our confidence in singing with others in a congregation. We’re a bit more self-conscious, a bit more restrained.
We need to encourage our churches to sing. We need to provide opportunities to do so. Parents this is particularly important with our children, many of whom in their formative years have missed out on 18 months of singing with their church family. They have missed out on that time of learning the words to the songs we sing. Missed out on those truths and the sense of singing truth to encourage others in their church family. Missed out on participating in the service and been trained to consume or be distracted rather than serve others by singing. Even as we can sing together there is much work to be done to tune up the vocal chords and muscles we use in singing, and in calling one another to engage.
There are some helps for that. We’ve started posting playlists of this weeks songs on our YouTube channel in the week leading up to Sunday, so people can sing along, remind themselves of tunes, tune their hearts and train their vocal chords and encourage their children to listen along. We publish the words on a resources page in our website so everyone sings the same words and can download them or print them off before they come.
Because there is a joy in singing with God’s people, but there is also a challenge in encouraging people to sing again, giving helps and time to regrow confidence so that we sing God’s truths to his glory and for the encouragement of one another.