“Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6)
And what better way to praise than to sing? Choirs do it. Birds do it, babies do it, my dog does it. Even the trees do it. But it turns out, singing together is a little more dangerous of a way to praise, whilst COVID-19 lurks in the land. That’s because in order to sing, breath is required — deep breath — the deeper the breath, the deeper the song.
But alas, the toehold that this virus makes upon creation occurs in one set of lungs at a time, often after riding there aloft on the breath of a loved one, a friend, a co-worker. Nevertheless . . .
“I will sing praise to my God while I have being.” (Psalm 104:33)
I spent a couple hours yesterday reviewing the conversation this week between leaders in the world of choral music and reputable specialists in otolaryngology and bio-aerosol infections, and the takeaway from that conversation is that corporate singing carries heightened levels of risk, for the simple reason that you take deep breaths, you use the whole tank, and your director keeps telling you to spit those consonants out!
It left me down, to be honest. But I’m not out, because God is breath. God IS breath. God is BREATH. The words for Spirit and Breath are so biblically intertwined, it’s often hard to know where one begins and the other leaves off.
“When you take away their breath,
they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.” (Psalm 104:29-30)
Last I checked, I’m still living, so I’m going to sing. And while the current crisis is plowing asunder our plans and our ways of doing things, I believe in the breath and the energy and the creativity that new things will come. I trust in God, who is in the business of breath and of creation and its by-product, renewal. So I’m going to sing, if only in the shower for now. Or the kitchen. Or the car.
And I’m going to take deep breaths to do it also! The better to access the songs that need to get out! Because what other art can excavate from our soul’s depth such joy, sorrow, gratitude, or longing as can a song?
“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:3)
God is the source of the song AND the singer. The music will emerge. It must return to its beginning. We will get through this time.
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When your heart is full of joy and hope:
may God whose glory is in the heavens give you songs to sing of prophetic imagination.
When your heart is full of grief and sorrow – when you can do no more than moan and cry:
may God who is the word made flesh give you songs of lament to sustain you and keep you from despair.
And when you cannot sing the Lord’s song – when you are in distant land beyond all singing:
may God whose spirit is hope search you out and give you back your voice, so that you may dance in the darkness.
And may our God – three in one – who sang the whole creation into being give you hope, courage, and love.
— A blessing by Chip Edens