I have always loved to sing. Whether acapella or accompanied , in the shower, car or kitchen..music carries me through even the smallest of duties. Though my voice is nothing extraordinary, it has purpose and passion in every note and tune carried. It takes heart that when it is lifted in praise to its Creator that truly our prayerful petitions are amply doubled. In fact, it was in children’s choir at my church that I first discovered the diversity of gifts and the power of song to stir the soul and strengthen a community. Through tornado ravaged springs, to drought impacted fields, layoffs and closings, my small church community came together praying and singing of the hope in what was to come.
Yet, so often it seems to me that this sentiment is not shared universally by the average parishioner in the pew. For a variety of reasons given, we come to Mass but hold back in singing.
“No one wants to hear me sing” “I am here to pray, not sing” “Too modern..too traditional” “There are others who can sing!”
Oh, how we miss the meaning when we do this! It isn’t about the quality or ability of the singer, nor is it about our personal preference of song. Rather, it is our participation and desire to pray, albeit in a different way, to our heavenly Father. It is adding our voice to the community in thanks, and petition for all that we have been given and are in need of. And in Advent, it is honoring the sacredness of God’s very gift of himself to enter into mankind out of his ultimate love for each one of us.
As a child I loved these weeks leading up to Christmas especially. My mom would pull out the Christmas songbook and together we would sing after school or church just the two of us. A few songs I steadily practiced and even clumsily learned to play on the piano, excited to offer some accompaniment. Were we looking for perfection in singing? No, but what we offered was always perfected in Him. We found community in one another, in waiting for what was to come. And to this day, it remains one of my most cherished memories of Christmas and of her. Eleven years have passed since her death and I now sing with my own family, as well as with those in my new parish home. I can almost hear her ask me again, “Elizabeth Ann, it’s almost Christmas..would you sing with me?”
This Advent, when you gather with your own family, whether in your home parish or another, please take a moment to consider this prayerful invitation of song.
2 thoughts on “This Advent: Sing with Me”
I truly love this. I try to encourage my family to sing in Mass all the time. My now 4 year old is singing the best that he can, and looks forward to the songs. I think sometimes we forget that singing is another form of prayer, and we should offer our voices up. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just from the heart.
As St Augustine said “He who sings prays twice”. Singing is very much part of our Christmas celebration… so much that we have our very own family Christmas hymn book with an eclectic collection of Carols from all over the world which gets added to each time a new spouse from a different country joins the family… The singing goes on for the whole 12 days!