Pastors Ponderings: To Sing is to Pray Twice!

Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in Pastors Ponderings | 0 comments

This Sunday’s worship services (6/25/17) won’t have a sermon!  Instead, we’ll turn to Music to lead us to and through our time of worship, as we look at “Grace through Scripture and Song.”

Music is a huge part of any worship service.  Whether it’s a big organ and full choir, or i a solitary song-leader with a guitar, it’s hard to imagine a time of fruitful worship devoid of music.  Even if we’re alone gazing at the wonder of a rainbow, our thoughts are likely to turn to a hymn like “How Great Thou Art.”

God has given us music as a way to worship Him.  Pastor Jim recently submitted the following “Pastor’s Ponderings” about Music and worship…


Greetings Friends:

PLEASE READ: Ephesians 5:19

“…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.

Sing and make music from your heart to the LORD,”

PLEASE READ: Colossians 3:16

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”



The great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther has said,

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”


In one of their songs the Christian groups Casting Crowns sings,

I’ll praise You in this storm and I will lift up my hands. For You are who You are, no matter where I am.”  


Psalm 100:1 says with boldness,   “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD.

The psalmist says in Psalm 28:7c, “…with my song I praise Him.

Again in Psalm 21:13 are these words, “Be exalted in your strength, LORD; we will sing and praise your might.” 


One of the distinguishing marks of being a Methodist is we like to sing. Music is a huge part of our worship experiences as Methodists.

Below is an article I felt led to share with you which speaks to music and Methodists. My prayer is that after reading this each of you will want to sing out a joyful noise unto the Lord!  I look forward to worshiping with many of you on Sunday and singing praises to our awesome God!


Pastor Jim


The following article was written by Christopher Fenoglio, who works for at  United Methodist Communications

Choir Members Enjoy Health, Spiritual Benefits

  There they are, on the seventh page of the United Methodist Hymnal, “Directions for Singing” from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism:

“Sing all… Sing lustily and with good courage… Sing in time… Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing… So shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven”

Rewards in heaven? Sounds like a good enough reason to sing in a church choir.

  But what is it about singing that seems to be part of our Wesleyan DNA? How does singing help choir members enjoy a greater understanding of how and why we worship our God, a deeper connection with one’s church and community, and even better health?

Better Worship

A common statement about singing in church is, “To sing is to pray twice.” Although the statement is often attributed to Augustine, the actual author is unknown. Still, the sentiment is true. Music is an art form that lifts up ordinary text to another level that inspires us and nurtures our souls.  

“Music is an integral part of how we relate to God,” says the Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett, program director of the United Methodist Alton L. Collins Retreat Center in Eagle Creek, Oregon, and leader of the Great Hymns of Faith Retreat. “It is how we understand at a deeper level what goes beyond words, what our relationship is with the Divine, and how we are shaped together as a community of faith.”  Of all the art forms, “music is one of the most easily accessible type of art in worship,” says Bartlett. “There’s nearly always an opportunity to open your mouth and make music together with the rest of the people in that service. Right there you’ve got an opportunity to experience the Divine in a different way than just to listen to someone read about God,” she says.   “Christianity is not a solitary religion,” says the Rev. Karen Westerfield Tucker, professor of worship at Boston University School of Theology, “John Wesley certainly made the case that it is a ‘social’ religion — both in its worship and in its concern for the care of the neighbor,” says Tucker.


Better Community

The benefit of singing with and caring for others goes beyond church walls, as many community choirs will attest.  In these days of an increasingly polarized culture, music can be a common bond between peoples. 

“Through music, we can build community,” says Dr. Jonathan Palant, Minister of Music at Kessler Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Palant is also the founder and director of Credo Choir and Dallas Street Choir.  “We bring people together in peace and harmony. I know it sounds trite, but it’s exactly what we do. In a choral setting, not only are we creating friendships with each other, but the audience can see, between the Dallas Street Choir and Credo, people in different socio-economic groups, skin colors, sexual orientations and religious affiliations,” he says. 

“By singing in a choir, regardless where (church, community, university, secondary school, etc.), music becomes the conduit that brings us together in a very safe and equal environment,” says Palant. “We come together in song; everything else (about individual choir members) is irrelevant. We come together in worship, in song, in prayer, to learn and to be better citizens of this world.


Better Health

“We believe singing in a choir and other creative arts can promote healthy aging,” says Dr. Julene Johnson, a University of California at San Francisco professor and founder and director of the Community of Voices study. “We were looking for a way for older people to remain independent and engaged. We knew that to have an effect the activity had to be meaningful, engaging and challenging. The creative arts do that.”

A similar study on the health benefits of singing for older adults is being conducted in Finland. Preliminary results suggest that community choral singing does indeed provide a better quality of life for participants.  Increased lung capacity and greater oxygenation of the blood resulting in improved alertness are all associated with singing. Singing is also good for the brain, especially when memorization is involved.

“Singing is of great interest to neuroscientists as it would seem that there is more of the brain given over to the processing of music than almost any other activity,” says Dr. Graham Welch, professor at the Institute of Education in London.  One of his studies involved four- to five-year-old children and found that those with musical training showed enhanced language abilities and memory for words. There was also evidence that taking part in singing and other musical activities improves certain aspects of non-verbal reasoning, literacy and working with numbers.   So with this evidence that one’s health is improved through singing, how important is singing to our faith as United Methodists?  “It all goes back to Wesley’s words ‘Do all the good you can,’” says Palant. “This is the outlet that singers choose to act upon those words. Choir members find their spirituality and their faith through song and through the choral community.”


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