When I was four years old, I went to my first choir rehearsal. It was 1954, and the little Sunday school room in the basement of Community Presbyterian church was Full of other 4 year olds. Our teacher, whose name I don’t recall, set us up on some small risers, so that we were three deep and about ten across. She had us each sing a certain little song to see how our voices were. I sang with reserve, but got all the notes exactly right. One little boy sang with abandon, gusto, and completely off key. Our good teacher had him listen to the boy next to him, and match his tone. The two boys sang in the various choirs in that church next to one another all through high school.
When I was serving in the Santa Fe church, one of the liturgists sang near me and I noticed he had a wonderful clear voice. I asked him why he wasn’t in the choir, and he said that when he was a boy, one of his teachers had told him to just mouth the words, so he wouldn’t be heard. I talked him into coming to choir, and he sings in the tenor section now. He said one of his favorite things in life is to say to his wife, on Thursday evenings, “Bye, honey, see you later. I’m going to CHOIR!”
One of my colleagues from Santa Paula writes at the bottom of her emails, “If you can talk, you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance. An African Proverb” And at the front of the Methodist Hymnal are these words from John Wesley: “Sing lustily and with a good courage….lift up your voice with strength.” Singing is a holy and right way to praise God. The Psalms are songs for worship.
There is a lot of noise in our world, and not all of it lifts one above the tumult of living. That’s why I put lots of hymns in our service. Methodists are known as “singing people.” Charles Wesley wrote over 7,000 hymns, and John wrote nearly 140 hymns, himself. Making a joyful noise is a wonderful way to worship our God, who Spoke the world into being with the Word. Our world needs all the joyful noise it can muster, Amen? for those of us who sing, it has been said that we “pray twice.”
As we travel during this time of various transitions into the season of celebrating the Light of the World being born, let us remember to sing as we go along the pathways of our lives. There are so many good hymns of praise to our God, who loves us unconditionally. “Give thanks, with a grateful heart,” that Jesus loves “all the children of the world,” including us. Rejoice, Let us make a joyful noise unto the Lord!