“Sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth” says Psalm 96. Singing is something mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible. This seems natural when you consider singing is something that almost all of us can do.
Song, with or without words, surrounds us. Although we rarely hear it, whales sing their wordless songs across thousands of miles of the world’s oceans and, for most of us; birdsong is an accompaniment to our daily lives. Song is integral to our lives.
Listen to the wind blow on a blustery day – visit the Singing Ringing Tree sound sculpture (one of the ‘Panopticons’) set high in the landscape of the Pennine hill range overlooking Burnley. Well worth a visit on a windy day!
When asked about singing and what it means to them, people often say things like:
“I can express myself and my feeling; I just love the feeling it gives me; it comes so natural to me; it makes my life happy.”
You may feel similar – try singing your favourite song and see how it makes you feel.
There are many scientific studies showing singing is good for us. It helps reduce stress and blood pressure, singing makes us feel good. Additionally, if you sing with others, the benefits are even greater than singing alone.
I started singing in a church choir as a ten-year-old. My parents did not go to church but, after being selected to sing in a Parish Church choir, the first time I heard the choir and organ is something I will remember all of my life. In fact, I can confidently say, that one event changed my life.
Music, and more particularly singing, became part of my being. It sustains me, makes me feel happy and helps me praise God.
In the choir vestry at St David Church there is sign:
For the common things of every day, God gave us words in the ordinary way.
For the deeper things we think and feel,
God gave poets words to reveal.
But for the heights and depths no words can reach,
God gave us MUSIC, the souls own speech.
There is a profound truth in these words. There is great pleasure in reading poetry or listening to instrumental music but put words and music together and we create something far more powerful and meaningful. For many, song and singing allows us to move and be moved emotionally and spiritually in a way nothing else can do.
St David’s Church Childwall has maintained a choir since it opened nearly seventy-five years ago. The choir of St David’s has a proud association with the Royal School of Church Music (www.rscm.com) and is an active member of local and national RSCM events.
The motto of the RSCM is…
I will sing with the spirit and with the understanding also.
This verse comes from St Paul’s First Letter to the Church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:15). Here St Paul explains that we should not just sing with our voices but also sing with the mind too.
If you read the word to the following well-known hymns, I’m sure you’ll soon start to hear the tune and you’ll be singing the hymn to yourself…
Alleluia! sing to Jesus!
His the sceptre, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph,
His the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise
The glories of my God and King
The triumphs of His grace!
I’ll leave the final words to Psalm 100, which says…
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
(This article by Phil Taylor was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in July 2014)