Guest Columnist from our Music Director: Meredith Kane
Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord.
How many of us like to sing in the shower, or behind the wheel while driving alone in the car? What’s different about our singing at these times versus our singing in more public, formal settings, like during the National Anthem at a sporting event, or our singing during the celebration of the Mass? In the public settings, we clam up. We become shy. We feel awkward, embarrassed, and self-conscious. We worry about being judged or looked at by others. But what if we took the uninhibited joy we feel at the times of private singing and made it public? What if we participated in Mass using the same bellowing voice we usually reserve for the shower? Isn’t that what we’re called to do when we celebrate Mass? To take our private, personal devotions to God and to come together as a Christian community and declare together, “This is what we believe!” Does it matter if it sounds pretty? Scripture tells us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!”
A few years ago I visited a Catholic church in another city. The demographic of this church was mostly white, middle to upper class folks living in or near a major city. Interestingly, there was a large pocket of immigrants from a small region in Asia who regularly attended their early morning Sunday Mass. There were so many of them that the church agreed to have a bilingual mass in their native language, and the people formed a small choir that sang once a month. I happened to attend Mass on a Sunday in which they were singing. They began to sing the Gloria in their native tongue using a musical setting from their country. I’ll be honest with you—it was some of the strangest singing I had ever heard. The timbre of the language gave their singing a harsh, nasal-sounding, pinched tone. I stood there, surrounded on all sides by this strange sound… and I loved every minute of it. Every member of that immigrant community sang the Gloria using every ounce of joy in their hearts. I could hear it in their voices and I could see it on their faces—love for their faith, love for Christ, for their community, and love for one another as Christians.
If a foreigner or a non-English speaker were to visit our Mass, what sense would they gather when they hear us sing as a congregation? We need to learn to set aside our fears and embarrassment, our likes and dislikes, and use the instruments God created for us personally- our own voices- to celebrate the Mass. There’s safety in numbers. The more of us that sing, and sing out, the more we will encourage others to do the same. I encourage you… next time you are at Mass, use your voice to praise God and celebrate– make that joyful noise– and find that uninhibited joy in Christ Our Lord.
Meredith Kane, Director of Music