Tag Archives: singing

“It’s Not Church Without The Singing”

This is meant to be an encouraging post for all those who are worried about worship without no singing, or feel that it just is not church without some element of singing. After all, Methodists especially are known to be ‘Born in Song‘. As churches start to go back to the buildings, at least in part, but without being able to sing – how can that be worship?

Music, and particularly singing, have always been a big part of my life. Indeed my mum’s pearl of wisdom to my husband when we got married was, “If she’s not singing within a couple of seconds of putting her feet on the floor in a morning, you are in trouble! She’s either grumpy or ill”.

Music has always been a major element I used in leading worship. So often a song can say what you have been struggling to. Picking hymns/songs always took the longest part of preparing a service, to ensure that they carried and enhanced what was being said and offered to God.

So, I can understand the feeling of people who cannot comprehend worship without music, and cannot imagine what it will be like, and how it can be true worship at all. But, we are having to find new, meaningful ways of doing so many things – and different does not always mean worse, we can find a new worth and value.

When my illness first took hold fifteen years ago, and probably the thing that initially immediately stopped my ministry of preaching and leading worship, I lost all power to my voice. As anyone who has heard me speak will know, my voice goes hoarse very quickly when I start talking, especially at any volume, and my struggle with breathing makes it very difficult to regulate even talking. If I need to talk for any length of time, even in conversation, my throat aches so much for days afterwards. Pre-recording at my pace, with lots of gaps no one else sees has become an opportunity for me to do some small parts of worship again, but it is not something I could do live, or frequently. Singing therefore is impossible.

Hence why this is, I hope, encouragement to those who are struggling with worship with no singing. At first I hated not being able to sing. It wasn’t me. Singing was how I expressed everything in my life (if we could have Pamsperambulation – the Musical, we would!), including my worship of God, and I was bereft without it. But I am here to tell you that it is possible, you can get used to it, we can find other ways to share our worship with God. It may take time and effort, but the new ways that we discover may offer a different slant to our worship, a new facet to our relationship to God.

One of the things I have found is that the less noise I can make, the more I can listen and hear God. God get’s a chance to speak, because I am quiet!

I am certain there are other people for whom singing is difficult, or uncomfortable for varying reasons, or actually it is just not their thing.

So, please don’t despair, don’t think this is the end of worship – we may yet discover a richer seam and a new encounter with God – because after all, worship is about God and not the method.

Basically, what Matt Redman says:

Born In Song?

Before we got married my mum said to Mr Pamsperambulation, “If she’s not singing in a morning within 3 minutes of putting her feet on the floor, you’re in trouble”.  Music and particularly singing was an important and enjoyable part of my life, especially in worship, part of helping focus on God.

When you add to that the fact that Methodists are “Born in Song” – singing is what we do, you can see the place I was coming from.

One of the saddest parts of my illness is that I can no longer sing, more than a couple of lines and I’m off coughing and hoarse.  Sometimes I can live with this, sometimes, especially in worship, I find it very hard.

I want to make it clear that I am not getting at anyone here, just exploring a way to live with what is, in a community that places a lot of emphasis on singing as a way to meet God – after all it is a way I would have used before I couldn’t.  But I don’t want to let something that used to be such a fundamental part of my life and worship to come as a barrier between me and God, or the community that still worships that way.  It’s me that’s changed – not the church.

It can’t just be me.  What about people who just don’t like singing or music just doesn’t do it for them?  Or people who come into our churches and know none of the hymns and songs we sing, finding it a totally alien concept?  I suppose they find a service that suits them.  But I have lost enough, and don’t want to feel I have to find a different church tradition too.

I had found one way of joining in with the music, by having a percussion instrument.  It helped me to still feel a part of the singing instead of just standing like a lemon.  But it’s not appropriate for all songs – and certainly not for all situations.

So how can I work this out?  I have no answers, but have got to find a way to come to terms with it.  Some days it’s ok, others it breaks my heart and makes me feel even more isolated and de-skilled than I already do.  Anyone any suggestions?