California’s Department of Health’s reopening guidelines for houses of worship contain bitter news for those who love corporate worship.

“Strongly consider discontinuing singing, group recitation, and other practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets,” the report warns.

In another section it notes, “ Activities such as singing and group recitation negate the risk-reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing.”

Absorbing this is tough news for those who feel most connected to God and others through music.

“There is something about articulating our emotional state and using music, using song, as a means of expressing ourselves before the Lord. And that's deep in the Christian tradition, from singing and praying the Psalms to the early hymns in the New Testament like in Luke's gospel and peppered through Paul's letters,” said Glenn Packiam, associate senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “There was also a reputation that early Christians get. In Pliny’s letter to the emperor, he says, “These strange Christians get together before sunrise and they sing these hymns to Christ as if to a God.”

“There's something about song that helps us express more than just what the words of the song are saying,” continued Packiam, who is also the author of the forthcoming book, Worship and the World to Come Exploring Christian Hope in Contemporary Worship.

Packiam joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss how his church has handled the pandemic from a worship perspective, what makes corporate singing ...

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