Music is a part of the human experience, and part of religious traditions the world over. It is evocative and stirring, and many forms of worship are incomplete without it.
Our title comes from a quote popularly attributed to St. Augustine: “He who sings prays twice.” A little Googling, however, indicates that Augustine didn’t say exactly that. In fact, what he said just doesn’t fit well onto a t-shirt. So we’ll stick with what we have.
“Singing reduces stress and increases healthy breathing and emotional expression. Singing taps into a deep, age-old power available to all of us. When we find our voice, we find ourselves. Today, sing like you mean it.” And let’s talk about the role music plays in your life and worship.
1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?)
I do like to sing, but I don’t think I can sing, so I don’t sing so loudly in public. It sure hasn’t stopped me from singing to my kids, though.
2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience.
I grew up through the 70s and 80s with the standard Evangelical hymn, prayer, offering sandwich. With no church year or lectionary texts to follow (except Christmas–all December–and Easter–Easter Morning only), I’m not sure how hymns were chosen. I don’t think there was much coordination except maybe on a communion Sunday. Then in the 90s we had 20-25 minutes of praise songs before the sermon.
I didn’t realize how different the hymnals and emphases were in Evangelical and Mainline churches until I started going to the Presbyterian church. I am learning to really love the Presbyterian music, but I do miss the occasional rousing hymn of my childhood. I feel a little incomplete on Easter morning without “Up from the Grave He Arose.” Also, I like the idea of the music leader being out of the way–not standing in front telling us to open the hymnals, etc., but I kind of miss the strong leader-led singing. I think it elicits a stronger response from the congregation. (I also think the lector should read the congregational responses when leading readings because it helps with flow and makes for a stronger response, so I’m biased in that direction.)
3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall?
My only experience with a worship service with no music is with my in-laws who attend the early service at their Episcopal church and it is an in-and-out service: 45 minutes tops, no music at all. I don’t get it.
4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things!
As I have mentioned before, I am completely musically illiterate. Our church does a mix of songs from the hymnal, from the praise song book, and some other pieces. It all flows with the liturgy and lectionary selections and that brings Joy to my English major, thematic, symbolic soul.
I don’t hate praise songs and I preferred that to the “Now stand and sing verses 1,2, and 4 of such-and-such hymn” and with a good leader, they can be quite nice, but I struggle with standing the WHOLE time and singing the same thing over and over and over. Yet I like some of the Taize music and things like the Kyrie that also repeat. It feels different to me, but I’m not sure I can explain how. And whatever kind of music we have, I will always miss certain other kinds. When we did all praise choruses, I missed certain hymns. Now I miss certain praise choruses. Whatever.
5) What’s your go-to music … when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points!
Ducking shyly she says, that would be Amy Grant. Some things are just too ingrained.
At the request of FaithHopeCherryTea, here’s a YouTube link to “Unafraid,” a song on Amy’s most recent album, an album I am really enjoying. I can’t embed video because I haven’t paid for the privilege.