Make a Joyful Sound Unto the Lord

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

“Sing, Sing a Song” was a popular soft rock tune performed by the Carpenters in the early 1970’s.  The lyrics are quite simple and extol and praise the values of singing, and encourage all to sing whether they have good voices or not.  Since Vatican II, the Church has introduced the value of congregational singing and many Catholics seem to enjoy worshipping God through song.  That is wonderful because like St. Augustine says, “he [she] who sings, prays twice!”  Singing, is indeed, a beautiful way to worship God.

Singing together is not only a form of prayer, but also has several emotional and psychological benefits as well.  According to a recent article in Time magazine, singing changes the brain.  According to the article when people sing musical vibrations move through the person and that alters people’s physical and emotional landscape.  Simply put, it makes us feel better.  Think about small children.  Most of us have either been sung to by a loving mother or other caring adult at some point in our youth to soothe and calm us when we were upset or frightened about something.  If this was not the case for you, perhaps you have seen this being done by someone else to a child and how usually the child stops crying or fussing.  Singing or being sung to has great power to change our emotions from sad and negative to happy and hopefully calmer.  Researchers have been hard at work  trying to explain why it has such a calming, soothing, peaceful effects, yet, has equally energizing and life giving effects on us.

What researchers are concluding is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes our nerves and simultaneously elevates our spirits.  This for us is a win, win situation in our stress filled and busy world, and for us as Christians it is a spiritual endeavor as well because like the Psalm says, Sing a New Song to the Lord, (Psalm 96) or Break into Song and Sing Praise (Psalm 98).  The virtues of singing are found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament.  Mary’s Magnificat is ultimately a song of praise!

Group singing for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all because it takes something incredibly intimate and personal, a sound that begins inside of the person and ultimately shares it with a room full of people and then comes back as something even more exhilarating and thrilling then when it first started and that is called harmony.  Research further shows that even if someone’s voice is only mediocre, the health benefits are worth their weight in gold because our bodies produce lower amounts of cortisol and our heart rates are raised.

Here at St. Boniface, we are blessed with a talented and competent Music Ministry under the direction of Jeffery Schneider.  Our cantors and musicians are here to lead us in song and encourage us to sing.  I am sure they will agree with me that they are NOT here to perform but assist us in giving glory and praise to our God, Jesus Christ.  So don’t be afraid; SING OUT LOUD AND MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO THE LORD!

Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

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