Last week, I wrote about my first experience gathering in person to worship since the COVID crisis began early spring. One of the things that caught my attention was how much I had unknowingly missed singing with other believers. Some churches still aren’t meeting in person, and others have moved back to online services only—so this singing issue remains. Even among churches meeting in person, the question of whether we should sing at all right now is a live one. That’s why this week’s Time magazine article entitled, “No Joy without Singing” caught my attention.
The writer had loved singing—in fact, he took vocal lessons a few years ago—and he joined the New York Choir Project group. His thoughts relate to his experience with that choir, but his words hit home for me as I thought about congregational singing:
Choir became a high point in my life. I’d close out normally dreary Mondays with that evening’s rehearsal and leave on an absolute high. Small wonder, for as science and experience have shown, singing together is ridiculously good for us. There’s a raft of evidence for how it improves our sense of well-being, releases a flood of beneficial hormones, lowers blood pressure and boosts immune response.
When COVID shut down his choir, the author turned to apps and the Internet to sing with others around the world (“singing buddies around the globe,” he calls them). Still, he missed singing in person with others:
I miss my real-world choir. I miss feeling the actual energy coming off of other people. I miss having an audience beyond my wife and daughter. Like any number of quarantined choirs–and choral singing is America’s most popular performing art by participation–my choir has moved online, to the familiar Zoom grid. It’s reassuring to see this sea of earbud-clad friendly faces, but as the technology isn’t quite there, we can’t all sing together live. I’m dreaming of the day our voices–and breath–reunite.
I am not debating in this post whether we should be singing at all (or wearing a mask while singing) when COVID is still a threat. That’s simply not my point. What I am arguing is this: if singing secular songs together in a secular choir can bring such delight, surely we who love Christ ought to long to sing together again. We ought to find great joy in singing His praises. Perhaps COVID is helping us–or at least me–learn this truth.
 Tom Vanderbilt, “No Joy without Singing” (July 20/27, 2020): 29.