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Our Song Is Not Complete Without You

Singing together is a core part of being a Christian and celebrating God’s kingdom. Congregational Singing is found throughout the biblical witness. To name a few prominent examples:

  • Moses and Miriam sang after passing through the Red Sea
  • David sang and gave us the gift of many psalms
  • Jesus sang with his disciples after the Last Supper and before leaving the Upper Room
  • Paul admonishes us to sing to each other with “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”
  • The heavenly kingdom is portrayed in Revelation as being full of singing by all the heavenly beings

A wonderful gift that God gives us through music is the opportunity to create beauty that is bigger than ourselves. When we sing together at Mass, it is a unique group of people making unique sounds. Our song will never happen the same way twice, even if we sing the same song two weeks in a row. It is a unique offering to God each and every time. That is why it is so important that everyone participates in the song of the church. Without your voice, our music isn’t complete.

Another gift that God gives us through music is the opportunity to be hospitable to those who are not like ourselves. There are as many different kinds of music as there are kinds of people in the world. Each culture, time, and place adds a stanza to the “great hymn of the church.” By singing songs and hymns from other cultures, times, and places, we are sharing in the timeless and expansive song of the church to God’s glory. By singing a song in Mass that is not our own, we affirm that people’s dignity and goodness. We are saying “your praise is our praise. Our praise is your praise.” It simultaneously expresses hospitality to folk who are not like ourselves and continues to expand our own understanding of God’s love for all people.

So, as we continue to sing together at Mass, I first encourage you to participate in the singing. We need your voice. Second, I encourage you to ask the harder questions. Instead of “Do I like this?” we should ask “How does this praise God or express God’s salvific love?” Instead of “What am I getting out of this?” we should ask “What am I contributing to this?” By participating more fully we will be more richly blessed on our journey of praise.

Sing on, church.

Brian Hehn