Sunday, August 3, 2008

Why Christians Sing

In doing the previous blog I forgot to include two details which I believe to be very important in terms of why Christians and especially Anglicans are intended to sing. Beyond the joy and the emotions which music adds to the tone of worship, there are some things which I suspect primitive peoples knew almost instinctively but which we moderns have had a tendency to forget. The first of these is that anything which we either sing or hear sung we tend to remember when other things will be forgotten. That is why that tune from the thirties which was playing when you confessed your love for the four year old next door still haunts you without giving you a clue as to why. Advertisers know this which is why they set their silly jingles to music so whether you want to or not, you will remember them. Consequently when we sing the creeds either to a monotone or to the ancient tune, we set them in our memories like concrete, hard wired into our brains forever.

The second is that when we sing or our attentively listening to singing is the only time that both sides of our brain are working at the same time. In the case of anything else it is either left brain or right brain with the electrical stuff flashing at speed beyond our ordinary comprehension. But when we are singing both sides of the brain light up on the neurologists machines. Who knew?

Beyond this, we need to understand that when we stand singing or simply listening to others sing, we begin to breath in unison with the singers which tends to lengthen our breath intervals. This cuts off oxygen to the brain and creates a very mild form of oxygen starvation known as nitrogen narcosis. It is something also experience by deep sea divers where it can be far more serious and dangerous. But for those singing the psalms to either Gregorian or Anglican chant, it is simply the brain creating its own natural high. It allows the brain to focus on what is being sung and cut out distracting events and information which I think is a good thing.

Of course these things are among the reason why some folk, such as my late mother-in-law hate and fear music. It overwhelms their rational minds and frees parts of them which they would rather keep under control, enslaved perhaps. But they also allow the serious worshipper to focus on God and come one step closer to the true purpose of worship, an offering of ourselves in all of our parts to God.

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