Singing Our Lives - Ways to Practice - Ideas

i>Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and
admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts
sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

— Colossians 3:16

•   Make a recording to enjoy on trips. Ask each person in your family or small group to contribute at least two favorite songs to a recording you make to enjoy on trips or at times when you are together. Make a new recording occasionally and save old ones for posterity!

•   Offer guitar lessons to teens on Sunday mornings as a special form of Sunday School. Learn about psalms of praise and lament, composing and recording original songs the teens write together during these Sunday sessions.

•   Make a list of sung mealtime graces that you and your family know. Post it where you regularly eat. Sing together one of the graces whenever you gather together for a meal. Add to the list as you learn new ones.

•   Include a music/hymn listening session as part of your regular prayer time. "Pray" the music as you listen. Alternatively, sing your prayers, using favorite hymns, liturgical settings, or the Learn prayers and songs of the Taize Community. Remember Augustine's comment that "whoever sings prays twice."

•   Gather folks in your home for an evening of singing favorite songs, from folk songs to Broadway standards to hymns.

•   Visit a synagogue or church not of your own tradition where singing is a central part of the worship service. How doyou perceivemusic to be shaping this community and sustaining a distinctive kind of spirituality?

•   As a congregation, sponsor a hymn festival for several congregations in your area, asking each to lead others in hymns or songs that characterize their own particular tradition.

•   Learn new hymns and songs in worship by featuring one new hymn each month. Introduce the hymn to children or to the choir first, so people can hear it, then begin using it in worship. Or institute 5-10 minutes of pre-service singing (with a leader) to gather people for worship and at the same time introduce one or two pieces of new music. Using a hymnal companion or Internet resources such as The Cyber Hymnal, research stories behind the hymn and its author and/or composer.

•   Construct an entire worship service around one hymn. Derive themes from it for preaching, use its music in a variety of ways and settings, weave its stanzas throughout the service, turn it into a litany, etc.

•   Sponsor a music program for children or teenagers to supplement music education in local schools. Hire a director/leader/teacher, do the publicity, provide rehearsal space.

•   In your group or family, tell stories about your favorite hymns, including how you learned them. What associations do you have with them? Alternatively, sing a song from childhood that is a part of your faith tradition. What is the most powerful memory the song evokes? Look carefully at the words. How has your faith changed since that song first became formative for you?

•   Create a musical last will and testament. If you were planning your funeral/memorial service, what hymns, psalms, and songs would you include? Record your ideas, add to them as you think of others, and let someone know where the list is, sort of like a musical last will and testament.

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