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Sing, Even When You Can't

Sitting in a church meeting one Sunday, I noticed the sweet lady next to me was bent over - a sign of a long life. She obviously had issues with her hands as they appeared to be deformed, possibly the result of years of arthritis. Another dear lady sitting behind us, reached over the pew and picked up a hymn book when it was time to sing. She turned to the correct page and handed the book back to the older, stooped over woman. Her eyes brightened as she grasped the book and held it in her misshaped hands as best as possible. I watched and listened. Sometimes sound would escape from her mouth, sometimes it seemed impossible for her to make her voice do what she wanted. And when voice came, the sound wasn’t on pitch. Still, she sang and her eyes sparkled.

Hymns are a way to praise the Lord. It doesn’t matter if we sing with a beautiful, perfect pitch voice. Just sing. My late husband was one of those who loved to sing, but knew he sang off key. He had worn hearing aids during most of his earthly journey and the last few years of his life he barely heard anything even with his very powerful hearing aids. Yet, when it was time to sing, he would sing. He loved it. And he rarely hit the right notes. Like the elderly lady, he loved to sing songs knowing it was another way to worship the Lord.

Having visited many different congregations throughout my lifetime, some congregations sing loud and boisterous. Some can barely be heard, even though the numbers many be large. I’ve heard a small group of children, maybe only 6 in the group, who sang so every word was heard and understood. This was not a trained group, just a small group of children who felt the joy of singing and were not afraid to sing so everyone could hear and understand.

Some, like the lovely lady I sat next to and my late husband, can not physically sing well. But when they sing, it is obvious that it means something to them and they give it all they have. It is their joyful noise to the Lord. I know a young man who is not verbal and yet he raises his arm to follow the rhythm of the music. I also love seeing those who are deaf, using their hands to sign the words to music. That touches my heart in an indescribable way. I attended a spiritual concert one Sunday evening. At one point, three members of the choir came and stood down front. They used sign language during that song. It spoke to my soul and tears, that liquid emotion that escapes from the eyes, coursed down my cheeks. That was a feeling to be remembered.

What makes music so special? Music is one of the languages of the soul. It is a language that all can understand, even if the words are in a different tongue. It speaks to the soul. It can uplift and inspire in ways that nothing else can. It can change moods and heal wounds. Can you imagine a meeting without music? Or even a movie, a TV show, or even a video game without music? Music enriches our lives.

Even nature is full of music. Listen to the birds and the many different songs that are sung or the rush of the hummingbird as it zips through the air. The waves as they break, the wind in the tress, the stream as it falls over rocks, all of these have a musical quality and rhythm of their own. Music is all around us.

Many of the hymns we sing speak of the beauty of song. Here are two verses of the hymn There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today:

There is music in my soul today,

A carol to my king,

And Jesus listening can hear,

The songs I can not sing.

There is springtime in my soul today

For when the Lord is near,

The dove of peace sings in my heart,

The flowers of grace appear.

Truly Jesus can hear the songs we can not sing. But He knows our heart. He knows how we long to sing and praise him with all our hearts, even if the voice isn’t there. He knows each song we sing every day. Sometimes that song may be slow and melancholy. Sometimes it may be joyful, or reverent, or jubilant, or peaceful. It might even have a touch of sorrow. Yet as we sing the songs we can not sing, Jesus, listening, can hear. And joy and peace can fill our hearts.

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