Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Russ already mentioned T.M. Moore's article Whatever Happened to Singing?, but I enjoyed it so much I had to mention it here too. Here's a snippet, but don't let reading this excerpt be an excuse to skip out on the whole article:

It’s time for Christians to recover the spiritual discipline of singing to the Lord.  Not just on Sundays – although, from what I have observed over the years, that could use some strengthening – but during the day and throughout the week.  Turn off the radio in the car and use the time to learn a new song to sing to the Lord.  Don’t just flop down in front of the TV; first, lead your family in singing the hymns from last Sunday’s worship service.  Sing at your desk.  Sing over lunch.  Sing with a friend.  Sing your prayers to the Lord in the morning (my father-in-law “croaks” his out each morning) or before you retire at night.  Sing in the full expectation that, as you do, God the Spirit will bend to your joyful noise and seek you out as a vessel ready for His filling. 

One of the greatest things my Dad taught me was how to sing. I never knew that I was being taught, and I'm not sure he knew he was teaching me (that's often the most profound kind of teaching). But every Sunday, my Dad stood up, hymnal in hand, and belted out the hymns in on the Lord's Day as Christ's people gathered for worship. He wasn't in the choir, he didn't have the voice of an opera singer, but he sang -- with vigor and volume, I might add. I remember watching other men in our mainline Presbyterian congregation who respectfully stood for the hymns and in some cases even opened the hymn books to the right page to hold it for their wives or look at themselves, but who never sang. Why not I wondered. I never asked any of them, but I think my interpretation was pretty much on the mark. They didn't think singing was manly, but was for grandmas and little children. I took their silence as pride. Singing does involve a significant commitment after all -- you really must put yourself out there. You've got to let the voice venture out, possibly without much support. But where the voice is on a short leash, I would reckon that the man is as well. Our bodies (including our voices) must join in worshipping God--unless we are physically disabled--and to the extent that we hold back part of our bodies from worshipping Him, I fear that we are holding back our very selves, maybe quite significantly.

Though outside of a churchly setting I saw this illustrated in the movie Captain Corelli's Madolin. In the movie, set during WWII, the Italian and German forces are allied and stationed together. When the Italian soldiers get together they SING, they give themselves to the song and the act of singing. But the Germans can hardly understand. They can't relate at all. They don't sing the way the Italians do. They're too uptight on too short of a leash. They can't give themselves to singing. Now I have no idea whether that is a fair characterization of either that historical situation or Germans vs. Italians in general, but even the particulars are pure fiction, it's still a wonderful illustration of a masculine singing and a weak and emasculated silence, uwilling to break forth in song.

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