If We Can’t Sing

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Most of us have seen the articles, blog posts and videos this last week indicating the potential for a higher level of asymptomatic spread and aerosolization of COVID-19 through choral and congregational singing. The emotional responses from music and worship leaders run the gamut of fear and grief to outright denial.

It is obviously still too early to be certain how these theories will play out and influence our musical worship in the future. What is certain, however, is that even if our congregations and choirs can’t sing together for a season, worship can and will still occur. It may look different but it most certainly won’t disappear.

An older member of one of my previous congregations was a fine vocalist and instrumentalist when he was younger. But because of laryngeal cancer surgery, he could no longer sing and even had to learn a new way to talk. One Sunday while leading congregational singing I observed this gentleman whistling the songs as other congregants sang. Just because he was physically unable to sing didn’t keep him from actively participating in worship. He just had to figure out a new way to do it.

Worship leaders, if our congregants and choirs aren’t able to worship through singing, then it will be our responsibility and calling, by the way, to help them figure out a new way to do it. Our methods might have to change but our calling to lead and their calling to respond certainly hasn’t changed.

This conversation is not that different than the conversations we had a couple of decades ago when worship styles and methods changed. As leaders, we often encouraged and even admonished our congregations that even though “we’ve never done it like this before” it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t or couldn’t. Some of us as worship leaders need to have that same conversation with ourselves as we lead through this uncertain future.

Oh, if we can’t worship through congregational and choral singing for a season we will definitely need to spend some time lamenting what we no longer have. But once we’ve had that opportunity to ask God why we have to walk through this desert, we’ll need to move pretty quickly from those complaints to “but I trust in You, O Lord.” Then we’ll need to figure out a new way to do it because our congregations will need it and our God will expect it.

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7 Responses to “If We Can’t Sing”

  • If We Can’t Sing | Renewing Worship Says:

    […] article was first published on David’s blog, WorshipEvaluation.com. Reprinted with […]

  • Ryan Says:

    I am not sayk g COVID-19 is not serious but it is the smallest pandemic in all of history. Out church never shut down. We had drove in services. I believe in takeing precautions but not to the point that singing in church is suspended. I refuse to live my life in total fear. I believe God will get the church through this time and we can continue to praise his name through singing.

  • If We Can’t Sing Says:

    […] Most of us have seen the articles, blog posts and videos this last week indicating the potential for a higher level of asymptomatic spread and aerosolization of COVID-19 through choral and congregational singing. It is obviously still too early to be certain how these theories will play out and influence our musical worship in the future. But even if our congregations and choirs can’t sing together for a season, worship can and will still occur. It may look different but it most certainly won’t disappear. Read more. […]

  • David Manner Says:

    Thanks, Sueda.

  • Sueda Luttrell Says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful blessing in these words.

  • David Manner Says:

    Thank you, Carol.

  • Carol Smith Says:

    Thank you, David, for an excellent article!

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