I love singing, always have. When I was a child it was suggested my parents put me forward for a St. Alban’s School Choral Scholarship, but nothing came of it. So I was very pleased to discover that Decca have just published ‘Light for the World’, a recording of the Poor Clares of Arundel, one of whom I know: https://umusic.app.box.com/s/zlk5iac6lhgfgaqxa5z6q3jigibkjvhy. I hope, as the producers say, that this music which ‘goes back to the very roots of mindfulness’ will draw people to God. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-World-Clare-Sisters-Arundel/dp/B08DQL8HNF
Plainsong, and other monastic-based chant, can have that effect just as certain other types of music can be of help in worship as it lifts the soul with the voice of song. At times I find those words of Psalm 96 - Sing to the Lord a new song - carried on the modern monastic chant I learnt when I was a Franciscan, echoing in my heart, Music can fill the heart even when the heart is the only instrument available for music - singing is meant to aid worship, not be its focus, something the writer of Psalm 56 knew:
My heart is
firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed,
I will sing and make melody.
Wake up, my spirit, awake lute and harp,
I myself will waken the dawn.
In this time of pandemic, when congregational singing is not permitted, it seems important to remember that even though we cannot communally chant our prayer and praise, the heart can still sing - the voice only magnifies what is there. Is that one of the great lessons we might learn from this time of crisis? That our lips express what is in our heart (the centre of our being), and our heart can still sing for joy even when our lips cannot? For surely a church filled with people whose hearts are singing with wonder and thanksgiving will be a place where God is manifest.