By Ray Nierman
Today, my friends, we’re going to be having a lesson in singing. So you thought you knew how to sing, didn’t ya. Well psyche, you’ve been juked. Do you ever sing the bass part just because you can? Maybe the tenor or alto part? Anything but the soprano part, right? That beautiful melody is just so BORING sometimes. Sure, the harmony sounds nice and all, assuming you’re doing it right ( I’ll believe in you for now), but have you ever considered what you’re doing by singing that different part? No?
Yeah, me either, until I started reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s the book we’re reading for staff — good book, would recommend, especially if you want to get SUPER called out for thinking you have musical talent. I’ve always loved singing in church, and as a kid, I used to attempt to sing every part in the song if it was easy enough and had more than four verses. Uh huh, nerdy as always. Little did I know, that young me was committing an atrocity against the beauty that is a simple melody. Bonhoeffer takes us through the reasons we should sing together, in unison, especially when a song requires it, and I honestly felt quite convicted when he shared his reasoning.
The way he puts it is that when we sing together as a Christian community, we should do it in unison because the power behind the song isn’t the music or our musical ability; the power is in the Word of God being sung, the praise we’re giving to God. While I may not like it, I kind of see Bonhoeffer’s point here. Singing in unison is one of the best ways to hold us together, to actually unite us in doing one thing, so it really does have a lot of power. While I won’t take is as far as good ole’ Dietrich does — “There are some destroyers of unison singing in the fellowship that must be rigorously eliminated,” — it’s definitely something I’ll be thinking about for awhile.
While I don’t think anyone is going to murder us if we don’t sing in unison at church, and I don’t think we’re going to Hell because of it, I believe Mr. Bonhoeffer made another really good about singing. We, as Christians, sing together because it makes it possible to speak and pray the same Word at the same time. The songs we sing are so powerful because within them are words of praise, words of thanksgiving, and words of confession. So on a final note, what I really want to get at is that singing, especially in unison, is one of the most pure ways of worshiping the God who has done so much for us, and that we should treat it as such.