Shepherd and Shepherdess Making Music Ca. 1500-1530. South Netherlandish.
Above the Shepherdess it reads: “Let’s sing a tune or two, on the grass, with your bagpipe.” The Shepherd responds: “Her voice is fair when she sings, but I do not get work done.” Public Domain.
Colossians 3:12-17 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
12 God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. 13 Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. 14 Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.
15 Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So, let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. 16 Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of him.
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Fredrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
I think I’ve had enough. Not of my family. Not of work. Not of staying home and staying safe. I think I’ve had enough of Taylor Swift’s Lover album. Since the pandemic began, Lover has been playing several hours a day in our household. Our kids listen to it in the background while doing school work. It is playing on repeat from our daughter’s room. Music videos for “You Need to Calm Down” and “The Man” are streamed on every device in the house. And when it’s not playing, any of my four housemates can be found is singing or humming one of the tunes.
The problem is that the Lover album is absolutely fantastic and way too catchy. I go to sleep with “The Archer” stuck in my head and wake up to “Me!” stuck in my head for good measure. Sometimes I sing along, without really noticing until a family member stares at me.
I miss singing hymns together while we’ve been separated during the pandemic. I am a poor singer, but I’ve sung hymns with other people of faith at least weekly for as long as I can remember. I miss my favorites like “Be Thou My Vision” and “Simple Gifts,” and I missed singing “Now the Green Blade Riseth” on Easter morning. I am rarely moved by spoken or written words, but music can get me into my feelings in a heartbeat.
There are countless references to singing in our Scriptures. The first Jesus followers sang at their first gatherings, so congregational singing has existed for a few thousand years. Singing together can give a theology and can even connect communities that struggle to be together otherwise. It seems like one of a few core elements for worshipping together. Worship services that do not have music feel like they are missing something. Worship services with mediocre music feel like they’re missing an opportunity.
Recently there’s been a really cool movement to pull together singers online and perform as a virtual choir. While this cannot replace what we do together in person, it is pretty special. Below are a few offerings.