All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with mirth, His praise
   forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

William Kethe, "Old 100th" (Ps. 100)

Whoever sings prays twice.

Attributed to Augustine, quoted in Brian Wren, Praying Twice

Before the message, there must be the vision, before the sermon the hymn, before the prose the poem.

Amos N. Wilder, Theopoetic: Theology and the Religious Imagination

To listen to the music or to sing a chant is to do something that has no practical purpose; it is just celebration and praise; it is just tasting of the joy and beauty of life, the glory of God.

David Steindl-Rast, Music of Silence

My benedictine community is a singing community. Maybe that's why we're a community at all, come to think about it.

Joan Chittister, Listen with the Heart: Sacred Moments in Everyday Life

Singing is discovered and invented, it is born at times when there is no other possible way for people to express themselves—at the grave, for example, when four or five people with untrained, clumsy voices sing words that are greater and smaller than their faith and their experience.

Huub Oosterhuis, Prayers, Poems and Songs

It is not you that sings, it is the church that is singing, and you, as a member … may share in its song. Thus all singing together that is right must serve to widen our spiritual horizon, make us see our little company as a member of the great Christian church on earth, and help us willingly and gladly to join our singing, be it feeble or good, to the song of the church.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

If I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
But if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home.

Rich Mullins and Steve Cudworth, "If I Stand"

The best imagery [for God] is that which is capable of being sung. Next to silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible mystery is music.

W. Paul Jones, Teaching the Dead Bird to Sing

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

Robert Lowry, "How Can I Keep from Singing"

Related Elsewhere

For more articles, see CT's music archive.

Past Reflections columns include:

Walk Humbly (May 28, 2003)
Mercy (May 8, 2004)
Cross and Resurrection (April 16, 2003)
Article continues below
Justice (March 18, 2003)
Sex, Love, and Marriage (Feb. 14, 2003)
Mountaintop Spirituality (January 23, 2003)
Word Made Flesh (December 20, 2002)
Desert Springs (November 25, 2002)
Matters of the Mind (October 16, 2002)
Bumper stickers (August 6, 2002)
Preaching (July 18, 2002)
Prayer (June 24, 2002)
Suffering and Grief (May 20, 2002)
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)

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