Sing with joy in your heart.
My husband, who has (still) a lovely voice, has sung with the Church choir for about 30 years. However, he often attends daily mass, and much prefers it, liking the quiet, the joining of relatively few people just for the grace and blessing of the sacrament. I, on the other hand, don't feel the mass is complete without music, loving to sing with both the folk group and the choir. It has been said that to sing is to pray twice, and certainly the words of some of the hymns are inspiring, occasionally moving me to tears - “in the dark of my shame, I have called out your name, and your mercy is a gentle as silence” - sometimes lighting me up with joy - “How great thou art”. One of my favourites is “Be still and know I am with you”, which finishes with “and in your need, I give my peace”. In times of stress, to remember those words, to know that Christ is with us, loving us, is so calming, so reassuring.
A couple of years ago, I visited some old friends, one of whom insisted that I watch the film Amazing Grace. I did not want to see it, not particularly liking the tune. My friend wouldn't take no for an answer, and watch the film we did. I was amazed. I didn't know that the hymn had been written by a former slave ship captain, who had “found” God, and spent the rest of his life fighting for the emancipation of slaves, and who died in poverty, having spent all of his wealth fighting the good fight – I sing the words of the hymn now with understanding and with admiration of what the grace of God can do to the hearts of mankind.
The music we hear in church has the ability to bring back to us memories of special times and moments in our lives – The anthems played at our wedding, the “old school” song – ours at La Retraite was “Lord for tomorrow” – “The Lord is my Shepherd” and “Abide with me” at funerals of those we have loved – truly, the gift of music (even if we ourselves don't sing well) can lift the soul, and is one of the most precious gifts God ever gave to human beings – can anyone listen to Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma without emotion? When we sing at mass, look at the words and “pray” them – and spare a prayer for the musicians playing for us – those in the Folk Group, Julie, Jenny, Irene and Bernadette, and Margaret at the organ, thanking God for their skill and dedication. And sing out – it's good for the health, and more so for the soul!