Sunday, November 19, 2017


Singing out loud takes the edge off depression, at least a little bit.  Just about any activity does, actually, but singing is near the top of the list.  Merely listening to music is also good, but I don't think it is in the same league. It's not accidental that most worship involves singing, and even the quiet Eastern forms often involve chanting. Living in New England, we have had lots of people in the pews who come for the concert as non-participants. Eventually, that leads to very good musicians and empty churches, I think.

I approve of different groups singing as part of the worship.  Heaven seems to be a series of concerts, in which we are sometimes participants and sometimes the audience (I imagine we will be allowed to hum along.*  I hope so, because I seem to do that naturally.  We went to a musical last night and the accompanist noticed my humming the bass line.  Fortunately, she was pleased.  Not everyone is.)

When one is depressed, sometimes it is hard to get up and do even small things that will help, because the depressed mind, in Eeyorish fashion says "It won't fix everything.  So why bother?) Encouraging friends who are depressed to get up and do something is a great gift.  there are those encouragers and coaches who are very good at persuading those who don't want to to get going and do a little.  Thrice blessed are they.

Getting yourself to church to sing out loud does some good, even in the natural realm.  As today's sermon mentioned, explicitly mentioning gratitude also seems to help us, so worhsip music has some extra effect.

*In my next life, I hope to be a cello.


james said...

But how often does a cello get to have the melody?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I like having the harmony. I'm not sure I could accurately get the melodies to Christmas Carols now without slipping into a harmony section once in a while.

Unknown said...

"*In my next life, I hope to be a cello." If I get another life I want to have a basso profundo voice. I sing by myself in my pickup driving places and occasionally see folks looking amused at me but they have no effect. The problem is that some songs affect me emotionally and sometime actually bring tears of joy and appreciation. I must be some kind of nut. LOL

Retriever said...

Mandatory daily morning prayers (and hymns) in my Anglican schools. While we grumbled about these, a GOOD THING. The hymns were singable (unlike many praise songs or modern choirmaster-composed "traditional" anthems congregations have to endure out of politeness). It probably lifted mood, got people to do something together. Also, there was a constructive brainwashing effect from repeating some of those verses...While I loathed the Victorian hymns maundering about death and Heaven, I loved things about onward Christian soldiers, putting others first, mission and the like and these had a good effect even on avowedly secular kids. We also had singing classes (often with quite strict methods that would nowadays be banned). Even those with mediocre singing voices and the tone deaf were trained how to pass, and this was all part of a notion that everyone would do his bit. Also that you would try not to sound like a braying jackass. On the other hand, a difference (that I noticed when I came back to America after years in exile abroad) was that if one made an honest effort, nobody snarked. We were taught that all voices were pleasing to God, and if a neighbour was out of tune it was rude and un-Christian to nudge them and tell them to shut up. This in fact has happened to a male relative of mine in American prep school and a church of ours here.

I attend my present church mostly for the music (Anglican, choirs of kids and adults that are semi-pro that my kids sang in for years, like one I sang in as a kid). It makes me happy singing hymns from my childhood and I get teary at times. Some of these are ancient and go back to the early Church, some are medieval, some only 19th century. The modern PC hymns make me barf. I am becoming a cranky middleaged/old lady.
Even in midwinter when foul tempered and bleak in mood, and growling at the world, I am glad to be there and fell uplifted, exhorted to improve (blah blah). Then I sink into misery and boredom during the service, perk up a little during the lesson, as we have decent lay readers, and silently explode with a critical fury and outrage at "how could this person ever have got ordained" during the waffling sermons about everything except the Gospel that would delight Screwtape....the choir's anthems soothe this savage beast. We also have truly cherubic 3-6 year old kiddies who get drilled each week to sing us a different hymn or anthem solo at one point that more or less brings the house down (bunch of financial pirates and trophy brides and snarky overeducated jerks like me, and the young families of course) most Sundays.
One slips the bonds of surly earth (that John Magee poem) and gets closer to God. The mundane effect is that when I go home, I try to be a little kinder to my family and not such an arrogant jerk at work. But the tears elicited? Repentance or neurotic nostalgia? Hate all those yucky maudlin (depressive?) blatherings about people longing for Heaven, our only Home,,, But good church music stirs up memories and longings for home, for times when we were happier, or more connected, or felt on the right path or when God's plan for us seemed clearer. Because when one is, like Dante's protagonist, in a dark wood, hearing a melody can tantalise but also just remind one that one was not always lost...
New members at my church don't sing, view church as a concert. Startled that I sing everything. Sometimes they get the idea that they too can, that they don't have to be perfect, and that just because our choir sounds angelic, their voices are also wanted, and please God.