COVID-19 Briefing 22/09
‘The one who sings prays twice’. These words, attributed to Augustine of Hippo (354-430), are almost certainly not his but they do resonate through the centuries. We have been deprived of making music together, ‘the way we’re used to’ since March. Professional musicians and voluntary music groups are now permitted to sing indoors provided appropriate social distancing and other Covid-secure arrangements are in place.
We’re delighted that at our Cathedral our musicians are back making music which serves the liturgy and is to the glory of God.. We’ve had recorded music for Sunday worship since lockdown, thanks to very hard work from the whole team, but during those weeks, as now, we can’t sing with them. And that’s really difficult. It’s difficult because participating in music making is part of how we worship the Creator. It’s difficult because singing is fundamental to human beings. Singing together is good for us. It brings people together, it produces mood enhancing hormones, it aids wellbeing and contentment, and singing together makes many into one.
Whether we sing with others at a sporting event, the Last Night of the Proms, the familiar school song at the start of term or in our churches – making music contributes to making us. Those who lead the music in our churches are not performing for an audience, they are performing – presenting their gifts- to God. We give thanks to God for church musicians!
The reference to singing as ‘praying twice’ has to do with the offer of both lyrics and music. As we return in our churches to offering music to God in all its variety, instead of lamenting what’s prohibited let’s celebrate what’s permitted: poetry, melody, harmony, creativity, praise, lamentation, remembering, and much more. As we quieten our hearts and voices and others sing on our behalf, let’s pray the words and the music we see and hear. Let’s give thanks for the creativity which God has entrusted to humanity. Perhaps we’ll hear familiar music afresh. ‘The one who sings prays twice’ could just as easily be written, ‘the one who prays, sings not with the voice but with the heart’.