Why sing in church?

St. Augustine is remembered for having said, “He who sings prays twice.”  Though I can’t find it in his writings, there’s something true about this quotation.  Singing is proven both to lift ones mood and to enhance one’s ability to remember the words they’re saying—an embarrassing amount of my memory is dedicated to all the songs from Disney’s Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

Even more so when we are singing to and about God, we are open to the way that God can use the words we’re saying to encourage us, convict us, inspire us, and energize us.  When we join together in the hymns, the psalms, and in spiritual songs, we call out to God both as individuals and corporately, inviting God to change our outlook on life and to dig himself deeper into our minds, hearts, and imaginations.

I’m always struck by the Sanctus – “Holy, Holy, Holy…” which we sing and pray together at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer; it’s a song that’s recorded in Scripture and as we say it in the service, it’s the song that angels and archangels and all the company of heaven sing to God continually.

What a stunning thought, that we, standing here in Columbia, South Carolina, join with all these creatures and with people throughout space and time, worshipping God through song.

One of the striking things about peoples’ accounts of near-death experiences is that they almost always mention that they heard singing.  What if our singing hymns on Sunday mornings bring us closer to God, and to heaven?

The Glory of These Forty Days

May we join our brothers and sisters throughout time and space in the holy journey of Lent, inspired, perhaps, by this poem composed by our great brother, Gregory:

The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God Who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
Delivered from the lions’ might;
And John, the Bridegroom’s friend, became
The herald of Messiah’s Name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
Full oft in fast and prayer with Thee;
Our spirits strengthen with Thy grace,
And give us joy to see Thy face.

O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
To thee be every prayer addressed,
Who art in threefold Name adored,
From age to age, the only Lord.

– Gregory the Great, 6th Century

Hymnal 1982, number 143; (http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/l/gloryt40.htm)