“I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you.” Psalm 144:9
When I was growing up, I was always singing. I enjoyed playing the 45 and 78 records on my little children’s record player and singing along. The records were from children’s stories and movies, like 101 Dalmatians or Peter Pan. I loved to sing. It seemed like there was always a song in my heart that oozed out of me whether walking to school or walking to church. The songs just had to come out.
At church, the choruses were fun and meaningful and they replayed in my heart during the week. I sang in front of church and the school classroom. The only problem was when I got nervous I would start laughing and could not stop! While it looked like I was goofing off, I was really just nervous. It didn’t stop me though. I loved to sing, even if I did laugh some along the way.
As a teen, I learned to play the guitar. Our youth group was quite musical, but even more, we just loved to sing together. We sang everywhere. We sang on the beach or in one of our homes. We sang on retreats, and during the school lunch hour. Music was so much a part of us. We formed singing groups and sang at our church and a few others. Music was deep within us and it just had to be expressed.
As a teen, I spent hours playing the guitar every week, and I began to write songs.They were almost all prayers written from my heart to God. Singing became for me without my realizing it, a spiritual practice. I sang songs of joy of God’s goodness and nearness and enveloping love. Through music, I worshipped God and expressed my love to God.
Over time, the songs I wrote and sang encompassed more. I wrote songs of love for friends getting married, and for those who meant a lot to me. I wrote a song for my beloved spouse for our first Christmas together, and I wrote songs for our kids when they were born. I sang them to sleep every night. I shared with them the gift that was so deep within me- music. Singing was almost another form of breathing for me. It has been so much a part of me. How often I have cherished John Denver’s song, “This Old Guitar.” It has been a dear traveling companion these many years.
Singing has enveloped all of life and I discovered that it became even more meaningful and necessary during times of sorrow. I lamented in song over the tragedy friends experienced. I cried out to God in song when my dad died. I learned to sing my pain. How much that has meant. During times of great sorrow, singing out my lament helped me to grieve and it brought me comfort and relief.
Due to carpal tunnel, I don’t really play the guitar much anymore. And for some reason, over time, I haven’t sung as much either. I am not sure why, maybe life’s responsibilities filled my time. I am not sure, but I have missed it. I didn’t realize how much until I started singing again. My heart was uplifted and I greeted the music as a long lost friend.
For some, it is easy to sing when life is good, and it can seem almost impossible when life’s sorrows are great. The news of late has been filled with so much that has been heavy. It has felt more like a time to sing in lament. At Resurrection Covenant where I attend, we sing a song by Matt Redman, “Ten Thousand Reasons”. It is beautiful. This is the chorus:
Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your Holy name
Bless You Lord
With permission, the church changed the forth line to “Sing your sorrow and joy”. When our hearts are breaking, singing our sorrow can be a great gift. It helps us to grieve and it can bring comfort and relief.
Click on the link to hear Matt Redman’s “Ten Thousand Reasons.” I encourage you to change the forth line to Sing your sorrow and joy, and see how it speaks to you.
I am returning to Singing as a Spiritual Discipline, and I hope you will join me.