A Message from the Music Minister
A Message From the Music Minister
Hello everyone! Here is an article from a blog I follow written by Wendell Kimbrough, a fellow church music director. In this article, Wendell talks about the importance of congregational singing. He believes singing together instills in us, in a way that spoken theology and other forms of communication cannot, that we are not alone, which is something I too have often felt regarding all of us singing together in the congregation. Below are a few other interesting statements Wendell shares regarding the importance of congregational singing.
A Curious Feeling of Transcendence Congregational singing can create a transcendent feeling of hyper-connectedness. I’ve never known exactly what to call this feeling, but whatever it is, it’s the opposite of loneliness. This is why people, even those who have no particular religious persuasions, leave a great rock concert gushing with enthusiasm, ebullient with a feeling of joy and connectedness. Singing loudly together with lots of people (especially thousands, like at U2 concerts) speaks to us on an emotional level.
Neuroscience, Oxytocin, and Singing Where does this feeling come from and why do we have it when we sing together? An entire branch of the neuroscience community studies the effects of music on the brain, trying to answer questions like this one. If you research a bit, one of the first answers you’ll find for our question is oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the human brain that contributes to feelings of trust for the people around you. It’s a bit like neurochemical soul glue.
Singing, particularly singing with other people, causes the brain to produce unusually high levels of oxytocin. When people sing together, their brains make oxytocin, and that makes them feel trust, solidarity, and connectedness with the people around them.
God designed our brains as surely as he designed anything else, and he made our brains such that group singing causes a profound feeling of solidarity and trust with those around us.
The Gift of Congregational Music
So why does God tell us to so frequently (in the Psalms) to sing together? He designed us such that group singing would draw us out of our self-oriented little worlds and declare to us loudly that we are not alone. You are not just a lone ranger in your walk with the LORD, you are, to borrow the language of the Book of Common Prayer, a living member of the mystical Body of Christ, the blessed company of all faithful people, and an heir of God’s eternal kingdom.
Music is a gift God has given to the church to help declare loudly to us this fundamental theological truth, which is sometimes otherwise difficult for us to believe. We often feel alone. Music is one of the primary gifts God has given to help us unlearn the lie that we are alone. And it’s not just listening to music, it’s group singing, that makes the point.