Jennifer Wallace

Those who know me know that I love to sing. It is no secret. From a young age, I tried to emulate my mom by singing whatever line in a song she was singing in church. I sang along with the radio.   I eagerly joined choirs, auditioned for musicals and singing groups whenever the opportunity arose. I still love to sing. I cannot help but want to join in when I see the African’s Children Choir in performance. I feel the same way watching YouTube videos of senior citizen choirs. How good it is to be united in song! I want to be at that kitchen party with fiddlers and drummers belting out folk tunes. I want to be near the edge of the lake singing an old spiritual when someone has come out of the waters of baptism. I want to be a part of the echoing voices in a cathedral at the end of a classical hymn. I want to be singing.

I love that singing and music can be found in pretty much every culture around the world. No matter the tradition and the background, the voice is an instrument. I also love the healing and moving nature of singing. In an article entitled, “Singing Changes Your Brain,” Stacy Horn writes how research supports the theory that group singing contributes to better health. Music can bring emotional healing and social change. The music that arose from slavery, which harkened back to slavery in Egypt, and became a part of Civil Rights movement also informs modern music today. From it came The Blues and Rock and Roll. It was powerful and is powerful. David the psalmist sang. Paul and Silas sang in prison. (Singing in prison continues. When visiting a correctional facility with a group from church, singing drew many inmates; “I’ll Fly Away” was a favourite.)

I remember clinging/singing to numerous songs when my little family was in mourning, “It is Well with My Soul,” and Lowry’s “How Can I Keep from Singing?” pressed on my heart, my soul, and my mind. What better way to face the most difficult time than with a song when I could not offer much else?

Some days my kindergarten kids don’t listen too well. In fact, this school year has been particularly trying. So I decided I would try something. I cannot say that it is fail-proof and the kids always listen, however, I have decided to sing–a lot. I sing to comment on how they are doing. I sing to change activities. I sing to get their attention. Whether or not it’s totally effective, is not the point. It changes my frame of mind. It helps me be calm. It helps me smile through it all.

When I am in nature, I also think of singing. I love the line in “Joy to the World”: ‘And Heaven and Nature Sing’. When I think of the rocks crying out and the earth proclaiming Jesus as King, I cannot help but think of that as a powerful song. It would give new meaning to a power rock ballad.

When my attitude needs an adjustment, sometimes I just need to think about life being a musical and I sing. And while I do not think that all situations should be made into a musical, there are some bad ones out there, I do think that singing can do a world of good. And that is worth singing about.

Links on the topic:

Stacy Horn, “Singing Changes Your Brain,” August 16, 2013, TIME

“Singing in Prison” by Anne Robertson

Oliver Saks on the topic of strokes and music his book Musicophilia

Enya singing “How Can I Keep From Singing”


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