It’s really a shame that, in American culture, people are no longer free simply to sing. I remember my grandmother telling stories of her father and his brothers, all amateur musicians. They would gather in some family member’s home, and the music would begin with whatever voices and instruments were on hand. There was radio but no television, so people created their own entertainment.
I don’t want to return to the days of limited radio broadcasts, no TV, no Internet, and no movies. But I’d like to return our population to the attitude that singing is natural, a form of expression, a way to participate in community, and for everyone to enjoy. We have allowed the professionals to take over this activity that is built in to the human personality and meant for everyday use.
Not everyone can sing well; some people have trouble hearing a tune and matching it, and other people have problems producing sound and getting it to do what they want it to do. So, probably, those people will not “perform” their singing in front of large audiences. But performance is just one outlet for singing, even though our celebrity culture makes us feel that performance should be singing’s only outlet. Yet we can sing to our babies and children and grandchildren. We can sing for ourselves. We can sing to God. We can sing every day without apology.
My first best prayers were songs I sang to God. I was barely a teenager, and I discovered that I loved to sing, and so I sang a lot and I wrote songs to express what I was feeling. Many of those songs were prayers—it was the most comfortable form of prayer for me at the time.
- How does singing figure in to your life?
- Where are the songs in your prayer?
- What emotions and dreams and longings could be expressed through singing?