Sometimes the choir sounds so beautiful at Mass that it’s tempting to not join in singing. You’re inclined to just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
But, that’s just it. This isn’t a show. This is Mass. This is our highest form of worship and prayer and it is not a spectator sport.
We are called to fully give of ourselves in order to be a part of the prayer of the Mass. Even if you’re not the best singer in the Church, we are told to “make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises” (Psalm 98:4-6).
Why should even the worst of singers break forth in song at Mass? Here are 5 reasons everyone needs to sing.
1. The ability to sing is a gift from God.
Last year when we had the opportunity to visit a nursing home with my son’s choir, I noticed one woman in a wheelchair swaying her body to the rhythm of the music, trying to clap her hands, and desperately looking as if she wanted to burst out in song herself. But, she couldn’t. She had lost the ability to speak or sing. We often take for granted that it is a gift to be able to make a joyful noise.
2. When we sing at Mass it is an act of obedience.
There are many Bible verses that encourage us to sing to the Lord, making it clear that this is something God desires from us. In Matthew 26:30 we are told that even Jesus sang hymns. When we don’t really want to sing, but do it anyway, it shows God that we are willing to put Him above all else.
3. Singing unites us as the Body of Christ.
When we sing together, we become united in our prayer and praise to God. It builds the community within the Church by reminding us that we are one in the Lord in the same way that our voices join together as one.
4. We can learn and memorize scripture through singing.
Many of the words we sing at Mass can be found in Scripture. In your own experience, I’m sure you’ve learned that it is easier to remember a song or a jingle than merely memorize text. The same is true for the Word of God. I’m sure that you can recite the lyrics to several hymns off the top of your head right now.
5. Singing is a form of prayer.
This is the most important reason that you should sing during the Mass. St. Augustine said that “He who sings prays twice.” Our song is praise offering to the Lord. The lyrics are more than just words, they are the prayer of heart.
“The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 1156
Remember, when you sing with joy to God, He hears the prayer of your heart. Even if it sounds a bit off key to everyone else, God is pleased with your desire to praise Him.
One way to prepare yourself to sing more at Mass is to learn the music. Take time to listen to the songs and get comfortable with singing them in your own home or car. Don’t worry about what you sound like, just pray the words and sing with joy to the Lord.