Both the First Reading (Acts – the story of Silas and Paul’s night in Prison) and Psalm of today’s RCL (Revised Common Lectionary) had me thinking about the role of song in Faith Formation.
Thinking back over my own experience; and I must declare a Welsh heritage here, by way of understanding that there is a cultural maybe even genetic predisposition to sing. Singing was very much a part of my early experiences, even before me, my parents would perform together at Eisteddfod’s Dad singing to my Mother’s piano. Our piano lived in my bedroom as a pre-schooler, and Mum would often play and sing me off to sleep following our prayers. But it was at church I have a special affinity for, we used hymn books with a melody line and my Dad would teach me how to adjust the melody to my voice range. I would especially like it when I cuddled in and felt his chest expanding as he sang. Also from the time that I could read the numbers it was my job to open the Hymn books to the next hymn. A responsibility I relished.
But, my experience is not unique I have met many people with very different heritages to mine who also have strong cultural heritages of song. I admire those who have said to me that faith comes to them in and through song. I have also met many wonderful people that sing out their faith in many different genre’s.
Through song we can share our faith, while we ourselves learn about faith. It is a shared experience while also being a solitary one.
Though I come from musical roots, unfortunately I didn’t inherit the capacity to create sharable experiences for others, ie. I can’t sing in tune nor play an instrument, but what I do have is the capacity to enjoy musical experiences and find my emotional release in what I listen too.
Hence, I listen to Van Morrison https://www.vanmorrison.com, whose music has many inspired Christian motifs, or Matthew Westhttp://matthewwest.com when I need cheering up, to Moya Brennan http://moyabrennan.com/home/or Sons of Korah https://sonsofkorah.com when I’m in a more reflective phase, and my home and car radio are set to the local Christian radio station. I also enjoy singing along to the old Wesleyan Hymns.
Music is the mainstay of many protestant and catholic denominations, and orthodox services. Even when worshipping in a service that is not my main language I have been immersed in the songs, hymns, and chants, without knowing the words it speaks a universal language of emotion, which connects us all.
In a recent article, https://www.everydayfamily.com/blog/millennials-singing-baby-lullabies/?utm_source=FacebookWall&fbclid=IwAR03vMeRg5hP-yuSfxjd8EMv2pPQ_lws76yppg-zwrPegMPS4zJrTL6td3Q we are reminded how important singing is to a child’s development and how modern parents are failing their children by not singing to them.
Though we talk of the Bible as the word of God, which often has references to God’s Word as being readable, it is also important to remember that Psalms and Song of Solomon were musical as well as verbal. So, it comes as no surprise that music should be considered an important part of faith formation.
Music with actions really gives a brain a good workout. Last year I wrote a post on Australian Children’s faith music https://wordpress.com/post/thecrossinmybackyard.wordpress.com/198 To make this an international list i would add Seeds Family Worship https://www.seedsfamilyworship.com I love Bethel Kids Come Alive https://bethelmusic.com/albums/come-alive/ and am looking forward to Fishy Music https://www.fischy.com being more easily accessible on Spotify soon.
One of the stories that was told to us by my Minister in my country church as a school age child, was that of a new choir master who decided to clean up the choir. He culled all those who couldn’t stay in tune, those who missed practice, etc. The choir sounded beautiful, the best it had in years, but one day after a wonderful rendition, a loud voice, assumed to be the voice of God, enquired where the music was, he hadn’t heard it for several weeks. The implication was that what was a beautiful sound to God was that made by people passionate about him. A wonderful message for the tone deaf daughter of musical parents, which may be why I still remember it now.