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  • Writer's pictureThe Rev. Beth Knowlton

Singing as Foundation

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—Collect for Proper 8

One of my favorite quotes of St. Augustine is “He who sings prays twice.” For those of us who love music, especially of the choral variety, we know this to be a deep truth. A recent article in the Washington Post mentioned that those who sing together actually experience measurably higher levels of wellbeing. For anyone who has sung in a choir, this is not remotely surprising. I have often joked that the worst part of going to seminary was losing my place in the alto section of the church choir. My initial spiritual formation and understanding of the Eucharist came from learning mass settings throughout high school and college. I often find myself humming hymns, and there is usually a significance to those tunes bubbling up in my consciousness. There is a deep sense of community that is built as part of practicing and worshiping together in a choir. For many of us, a large challenge in the pandemic was the fear that became associated around singing together in worship. When would it be safe to sing together again? What is worship absent the hymnody that undergirds so much of our theology and faith formation? The first Sunday we were back in full force, tears sprang to my eyes as we sang. We are bonded in a way when we sing together that is not matched when we simply speak. This Sunday we are sending our choir forth on a pilgrimage to Scotland and England. They have been preparing for this opportunity for months. I’ve been blessed to accompany two choirs on these trips in the past. They are remarkable experiences and formative on a profoundly spiritual level. You cannot sing in these places for a week and not walk away transformed. There are also the countless moments—both ridiculous and sublime—that occur when a group travels together. I hope you will join us this Sunday at 10 am. We will get to hear one of the choral mass settings that the choir will sing overseas. We will also have a chance to bless our choir and the pilgrims traveling with them. Please join us, both to pray for them and to enjoy the gift of their preparation before they set off!

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