Singing in Church

Ministry Matters: How to Encourage People to Sing in Worship. This article points to some of fascinating studies about why people sing (and some of the benefits that come from singing in groups).

[John Bell] said that he had been blessed “with a mediocre voice,” because when congregations heard him lead singing, they automatically thought, “I can do better than that, and I’d better help him out.”

NPR describes some of those benefits in this piece: When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat As One:

But what really struck him was that it took almost no time at all for the singers’ heart rates to become synchronized. The readout from the pulse monitors starts as a jumble of jagged lines, but quickly becomes a series of uniform peaks. The heart rates fall into a shared rhythm guided by the song’s tempo.

And Slate: Ode to Joy: Join a choir. Science shows it’ll make you feel better.. For example:

Music is awash with neurochemical rewards for working up the courage to sing. That rush, or “singer’s high,” comes in part through a surge of endorphins, which at the same time alleviate pain. When the voices of the singers surrounding me hit my ear, I’m bathed in dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with feelings of pleasure and alertness. Music lowers cortisol, a chemical that signals levels of stress. Studies have found that people who listened to music before surgery were more relaxed and needed less anesthesia, and afterward they got by with smaller amounts of pain medication.

And from a less scientific, more theological standpoint, there’s this from Tim Challies: 3 Errors of Musical Style that Stifle Community:

I want music that helps them worship God if they got engaged the previous evening, and I want music that helps them worship God if they broke up the previous evening.

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