My Life Goes On in Endless Song——
But When Can We Sing Again?
Some months ago I wrote an article for the newsletter on the benefits of singing, both health benefits and social benefits. There is pure joy in making beautiful music with a group of singers. For church choirs, singing is never a “performance”, rather we sing to the glory of God, and indeed, to God alone the glory. For three months now we have been silent, and we wonder if life will ever be normal again.
My life is music. I started piano lessons at the age of 5, I sang in church choirs, accompanied church choirs, directed church choirs, played with a symphony, and for many years have been organist and choirmaster at several churches, but the majority of those years have been here at Christ Church. It is a joy and a gift to do this work.
“My Life Goes On in Endless Song” is a favorite choir anthem of mine, but that endless song has been silenced. When can we sing again? We have missed being together and singing together. Making music expresses and deepens our faith, congregation and choirs alike.
What do science and data say about the near-term future of singing, not just choral singing, but also congregational singing? A pandemic webinar organized by leading choral musicians featured a panel of scientists, doctors, and musicians. The conclusion they reached was clear, and sad. There is no safe way for singers to rehearse together or sing together until there is a vaccine widely available and a treatment protocol that is 95% effective. Until then, we cannot sing. That vaccine and treatment is 18-24 months away. There are no spacing solutions that prevent risk. There are no masks safe for singing. Even when wearing a mask, scientists have found that virus-filled water droplets spray through the front of the mask. This is not good news for church musicians and choirs.
But I am optimistic that a vaccine and protocol will be found, sooner rather than later. I miss the choir terribly, I miss the joy of making music with them and with the congregation. Meanwhile, Raul and I, very distantly, try to keep music alive in our church and in our hearts. Don’t stop singing! Sing in your hearts, sing out loud, sing favorite hymns, sing in the shower—sing in your soul.
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, I will praise my God while I have my being”. Psalm 104, vs. 34
Lynn H. Gardner,