singing in church

January 19, 2010

Today, the white elephant is going to copy someone’s entire post, because it so accurately and scarily sums up my thoughts about this. Thank you very much to a “net-friend” at John Mark Ministries.

Another Net-friend’s contribution:

1. It will be a sad day when we stop singing in church and instead accept performances from other people. Singing is a way of participating instead of observing. It is a way of affirming our faith. The words and tunes gently slip into our memories and our souls. It is probably the most important source of knowledge of the Christian faith, even in an age of almost universal literacy. I believe it is one of the ways that the Holy Spirit transforms us. Singing – of any sort – is extremely healthy. To sing well, one has to be aware of one’s own body. To sing well with other people, one has to be aware of what other people are doing – their pitch, timing, etc. Singing is also a way of breaking through people’s inhibitions. When people observe performances, they are reduced to being consumers instead of participants. Part of being counter-cultural, and resisting the slide into consumerism and individualism, is to sing in church. If people are uncomfortable, then lets find hymns and tunes that they are comfortable with. Let’s work out whether they are more comfortable sitting or standing. Let’s do lots of other things that people are comfortable with. But let’s not give up singing.

2. Most of the charismatic and pentecostal churches engage in a lot of singing. It is part of their attraction. As those churches are growing, it is clear that at least some people want churches where people sing.

the spirit of karaoke

November 1, 2009

Why is it, when I blog I always end up writing about cheesy singing-related topics like Australian Idol and karaoke? Self-confessed karaoke tragic here. Yes, I am one of those people who, if you give me a glass of wine and a karaoke machine it’s hard to get me to stop. In fact I don’t really even need the glass of wine as an excuse (but often several are consumed along the way!)

Unashamed, I feel like writing a post about the spirit of karaoke, the philosophy of karaoke which I love so much. Basically it’s about anyone having a go, it’s about music for the sheer joy of it, never mind about talent, marketing, fashion or any of those unnecessary evils.

I feel that music has become such a commodity, in our materialistic world it’s just another product to be sold and make money. This results in our forgetting what it is to come together with other human beings and make music, imperfectly, for fun. This results in a kind of music fascism, that only certain styles which are in current fashion can be displayed in public. People develop a football team mentality.

Sure, I have no problem with talented musicians, I’m all for them. There’s nothing like a truly inspired singer, writer or group (Katie Noonan for example) who can remind us what heaven is supposed to be like. But I guess I’m a fan of community music, voices coming together and people all joining in. I’m sure in many cultures pre-TV, pre-internet, pre-commercialisation of everything it was the norm for people to sit around and sing together. Music was just part of the rhythm of life, the way people expressed their sadness and romance and grief and love and transcendence of the everyday. The way people formed community and came together. Try suggesting a singalong at your next dinner party and you are likely to be greeted by an embarrassed silence and hasty departure.

Why have people become so uptight? The majority of people I know, when asked to come to a karaoke night either a) think I’m joking b) are very, very busy c) sit uncomfortably on the sidelines or d) drink large amounts before even considering entering a stage.

Then there are the odd few crazies like me whose eyes light up. Who say “OK I’ll be there” and mark their diaries, and turn up, and keep singing, and stay late! We band together and form odd alliances and have wonderful outings. We spend time on ebay browsing karaoke machines and build up secret CD collections.

We experience judgment from the tight-lipped majority but inside our hearts are too busy rejoicing to care.