I always feel like apologizing to the people around me when I sing in church. God made my children talented singers, but not so much their father. I couldn’t carry a single note, let alone an entire tune. My voice sounds like the noise you would hear from a lonely cat in a dark alley on a cold night.
And I have no sense of rhythm. When the hymn calls for hand-clapping, I am always a gentlemen–I hold onto the music book for my wife while she claps. That way, people don’t see that I would turn a simple 1-2 rhythm into 1-2, 1-2, 1-1.75, 1-1.5, 1-1, pause, 1-2, 1-3, etc. You get the picture.
And yet I sing anyway. Why? Two reasons. Obedience and joy. First, obedience. When Father says kneel, I kneel, when he says respond, I respond, so when he says sing, I sing. Some time ago, I decided that the collective wisdom of Jesus and of the entire Church goes into the order of mass, so the odds are pretty good we are called upon to sing for a perfectly good reason, even those of us who sound like stray goats caught in a fence. So, where the mass calls for us to sing a hymn, I sing a hymn.
Second, joy. When I was younger and much more impressed with my dignity, I thought I was too cool to sing. Later, as I became less impressed, but still pretty vain, I was too embarrassed. But every now and then, I would allow my voice out of its locked cupboard on special occasions, like when the church was full and we’d sing a really loud hymn. I figured nobody could tell that noise was me and not a bad wheel-bearing on the furnace blower.
I soon noticed that those masses were some of my favorites, and that I felt closer to the Lord than when I’d just stand there. Over time I began to sing more and more. The songs became more familiar to me. Eventually I realized the wisdom in the old saying, “he who sings prays twice.” It’s not that God is closer to us, it’s that we are closer to Him when we give ourselves completely over to His purposes.
So now I stand when Father says stand, I kneel when he says kneel, and when he asks us to praise God in song, I do that too. “Sing a new song unto the Lord.”