Song as Prayer

At our July 4th Mass, we sang every verse of every song, something Catholics rarely do. It got me thinking about the major role song plays in our lives. I believe we are the only earthly creatures that can RSCN0309sing, not counting birds who each have their own sound (except for the mockingbird). Whale sounds too might be considered song, but not like ours. Song is woven throughout our entire lives. Chances are that during our first years on earth our mothers sang us to sleep with lullabies. Then we learned children’s songs like “Are You Sleeping, Brother John?” and camp songs like “Found a Peanut.” In school we added to our repertoire in music class. Famous singers are among the most popular and richest people on earth. Some are called American idols!  One of the most beautiful things I ever heard was at an opera when at one point a soprano’s voice seemed to shiver in the air. It was indescribable.

The greatest way we can use our singing voice is to praise God, even if we sound like a cat with its tail caught in a door. Music directors like to quote St. Augustine’s statement that singing is praying twice, probably because more of our body and our energy are used or because it is beautiful. My friend Monsignor Moriarity informed me that what the saint really said was, “Singing well is praying twice.” Our psalms originally were prayer songs. The Jewish people sang them on the way to the Temple and in the Temple at great length and with great fanfare: choirs and instruments and gestures. Jesus sang psalms at the end of the Last Supper. I wonder what his voice sounded like—maybe smooth and mellow like Andy Williams’s voice or the music director’s at my church. Beautiful music has power to stir our hearts, touch our souls, and lift our minds to God.

People like to sing in the shower and in the car. Why not sing Christian songs—and not just Christmas carols? Play a CD of them while doing housework or exercising. Some Christian songs make good lullabies too. Above all, we mustn’t be shy when it comes to singing in church. For one thing, when we sing, all of our voices blend together and create one sound. This is a sign of the unity of the Church, God’s people. Belting out the hymns is also praising God, and that is what we were made to do. Consider it practice for the eternal liturgy of heaven when we will join the choirs of angels.

What is your favorite hymn?  Mine is “Christus Vincit” (Christ Conquers), sung in four-part harmony as we Sisters used to do for the Feast of Christ the King.

This week I will be on retreat praying for the world. Please pray for me.

1 Comment

  1. Marilou on July 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    What beautiful thoughts, Sister as usual. I sent it to my granddaughter, Francesca in SC… she is a big fan of yours as I have given them all of your books… she is quite talented playing the harp and piano so well.
    Prayers with you for a grace filled retreat.
    with love,

Leave a Comment