Why Don’t We Sing in Church (ECUSA version)?

I love to sing. I even love to sing the songs in the Episcopal Church Hymnal which I have been assured by an imminent musician is not the best hymnal ever. I love to sing loud, to attempt the alto on some, to—almost—get the spirit.

Which usually leads to the folks sitting near me starting to glance back to see who’s singing so…loud. And then they mention it during the peace. “Was that you I could hear?” Some of them say it was nice or compliment my voice. But some just look vaguely shocked that anyone is singing so…loudly.

It’s the weirdest thing. I was raised a Baptist. In the Baptist church, everybody sang. And people got the spirit. You know, they danced, and clapped, and shouted. I was never comfortable with that. I never, not once, in over 35 years “got the spirit.” I was a quiet worshipper, comparatively speaking.

Then I became an Episcopalian. And compared to my current pew mates, I’m a holy roller. And all I do is sing loud. Although sometimes I get why no one else is attempting the hymns. At a previous church, we were all convinced that our organist/choir director would not be happy until we’d sung every song in the hymnal. Some of them are hard; and some of them are just plain ugly. But we slogged on, getting at least one surprise each week.

Lord knows, we all know a lot of the hymns and service music (I hope I never have to sing “The Church’s One Foundation” ever again). But my fellow parishioners, if they are singing, are singing only to themselves. No gusto. No spirit. Even when we know the tune, and agree with the words, we are not making a very joyful noise.

So if you want to sing loud, come stand by me!

Michelle J  Walker is a practicing Episcopalian who only plays a Presbyterian Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5.

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