When I was a child I was musically challenged – not much has changed, I hear you say. Sometimes in school, when we were singing, I would sit at the back and be as inconspicuous as possible, at least as much as a kid who was almost twice as tall as the other kids could be. The best advice I ever got from a music teacher was, “John, you just mouth the words.”
Sometimes the other boys envied me and the fact that I didn’t “have to” sing. They wanted to sit at the back with me and just mouth the words. The trouble was that my hope to go unnoticed would be dashed by these boys who seemed to do all that they could to be noticed and to disrupt the rest of the class.
So, you can imagine my embarrassment when one teacher turned to me and the other three boys who had joined me and were told to, “Shut-up and sing!”
“… and Sing!” was not the first title of this article, I wanted to call it, “Shut-Up and Sing!” But, we try and teach our children to be polite so, on the off-chance that one of them might read this and accuse me of being impolite, I dropped the shut-up part. My hope however, is to drive home the point that a little bit of civility and generosity is a good thing in the Church.
Every Sunday we sing hymns from a variety of styles and theological points of view. We developed principles to help with the choosing of hymns. We hope to maintain a balance of hymn styles and to choose hymns based on the readings assigned for the day and the liturgical season. New music will be introduced and taught. Also, we will try and avoid obsolete language. We will cultivate a spirit of enthusiasm.
Regardless of how I feel about a particular hymn I have an ethical responsibility to sing with my brothers and sisters in worship. I might dislike a hymn, but my neighbour loves it, so I sing, not because I love the hymn but because I love my neighbour. And when we sing a hymn I love but my neighbour hates, I expect him or her to sing with me too. Anything less falls short of the community we are called to be.
Singing is perhaps the best example of pure Christian love; it is a perfect example of the nature of God’s realm: for with singing there is always room for one more voice. Within God’s love there is always room for one more.