The Atheists Who Sing Hymns

Many atheists will tell you that, even though they don’t go to church anymore, they still miss the music. In New York, a group of atheists and agnostics (and a few straggling theists) are part of a group called the Renaissance Street Singers that offer public performances of religious music for the sole reason that they just love the pieces:

The Renaissance Street Singers have been performing sacred music in public spaces for 40 years. On city sidewalks, in train stations, in public parks — anywhere they can find an audience. But these singers insist that their mission is not a religious one. The group consists mostly of self-described atheists who nonetheless share a deep reverence for the hymns, psalms and motets of the 16th century.

“It’s simple, un-gussied music,” says John Hetland, founder and director of the Renaissance Street Singers. “It’s not anything showy. It’s just beautiful music.”

“I like to say that for an atheist and a Jew, I spend a lot time singing about Jesus,” says Nancy Mandel, who’s been singing with the group since the mid-’70s. “If I don’t believe the actual things that are being said in the words, it’s the act of singing together itself which is the most important meaningful thing — without which the rest of this couldn’t happen.”

You can check out their singing schedule here.

(via National Public Radio)


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