“…with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” – Colossians 3:12-17
There are about 5,400 animal species that make complex, intentional, repeatable, musical vocalizations. That is, there are about 5,400 species that sing. The majority live in the trees, a few live in the oceans, a very few live underground, but there is one—only one—singing species that lives on the ground: us.
Another thing: humans are the only singing species with a precise and shared sense of rhythm, which is what allows us to sing together. Two birds might sing the same song, but they cannot sing it together.
Another thing: if a roomful of people sings at the same time, they start to breathe at the same time as well. Some studies suggest that if the drumbeat or bass line is strong enough, their hearts will begin to beat together, too. And if we’re singing together and breathing together and our hearts are beating together, then it’s like we’re one body. And you know Whose body it is.
Another thing: all the other species stop singing when danger approaches. But humans sing louder the closer the danger gets. We sing together, and we become large, and we do not back down.
So come racism, and “We Shall Overcome” you.
Come fear, for “It is Well With My Soul.”
Come war, for tonight is your “Silent Night.”
Come death, for “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.”
Come, all ye faithful, and sing.
Lord, I can’t read music and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. But I’m-a sing your praises anyway. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.