when our singing is complicated

Posted by on Jun 25, 2020

Singing together is complicated and problematic right now, for a whole lot of reasons.

A while back, I received an invitation from St Jacobs Mennonite Church to be a “guest speaker” for their pre-recorded online worship service, and for a zoom conversation with the congregation afterwards. It gave me an opportunity to work at some things that I’d been mulling over for some time, and I was deeply moved by the vulnerable and insightful ways in which participants engaged with what I shared, and the many very current and urgent realities and challenges and implications and questions that arise.

Here is a brief description and summary/outline of what I shared with the congregation:

“How Can We Sing The Lord’s Song In A Strange Land?”

We live at a time where group singing is not only challenging – it is dangerous! We are not the first, and we won’t be the last, to live through times where singing as a community is logistically, politically, emotionally, spiritually and theologically complicated. Let’s walk and sing through a few biblical examples that call us to deeper reflection on what and why and how we sing.

Introduction – “Maybe A Song”
Psalm 137 – songs demanded, songs withheld
Exodus 2:23-25; Exodus 15 – wordless cry, victory songs
Psalm 46 – “God Our Refuge,” “God On Our Side” songs
Amos 5:21-24 – “I Don’t Want To Hear Your Songs” songs
Psalm 137 – how a Psalm about not singing becomes a song (and part of a collection of songs) that endures for thousands of years
Closing – “I Know Nothing” (Romans 8:38-39)

Here is a link to the video of the service. My reflections begin at the 15:14 mark, and close with a new (unreleased) song which begins at 52:50.

Note: This was a “first-time-through” this material and these reflections. There is plenty of other related material that did not make it into this time, and that I would like to develop into future presentations as well. Please let me know if this is something you would like to explore with your congregation. I would welcome the opportunity to share with you, learn from you, and sing (virtually/online, for now) with you!