Singing, COVID-19, and Church…

So, some stream of consciousness thoughts that have been percolating for some time now.

hedley lamarr

 

As the great theologian Hedley Lamarr once said:

“My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening thru a cosmic vapor of invention.”

 

I’ve been thinking, almost constantly now for several weeks, about the implications of COVID on our church and the church as a whole’s re-assembling…and about the numerous reports and stories regarding how singing can, did, does, and could be a significant factor in transmission of airborne germs that could carry the virus.

I don’t want to think about an assembly WITHOUT SINGING. The thought of that even being an option on the table saddens me deeply. If we can’t sing together, then it’s hard to think that it’s right to come back together quite yet.
[You can read an earlier post I shared last week about the wisdom in choosing not to assemble together quite yet from a perspective of preventing risk as opposed to creating risk…]

Yes, there are ways we can sing with masks on, tools, technology, things we can use to help us still worship in song even if we can’t sing full-heartedly and spirit-filled without masks.

As I was sharing with my bro Nathan Tillotson a little while ago, one of the take aways I hope to see as a result of this quarantine is that the church more fully embraces the communal and spiritually formative nature of congregational singing.

Each week, what I miss the most in our season of live streamed worship, is singing with my church family. For some time now, the church has seen in its present pendulum swing with regard to worship music, a leaning toward a return to more congregation-friendly, participation-initiating, more hymnic style songs (i.e., Getty/Townend – Sovereign Grace – Bob Kauflin – Indellible Grace – Kevin Twit – Audrey Asaad and others writing them and helping to lead the church in such a direction!).

But as the church processes just how much it has missed being together, I hope and pray that it will recapture and appreciate the incredible power and witness of congregational song again…it’s long overdue.

 

Lots of Facebooking, Streaming, Hymnstagramming, and YouTubing

Hi Friends & Readers.

Your not-so-faithful hymnist, D.J. Bulls here.
Well, with COVID-19 and quarantining, we’ve been doing a lot of digital work lately.

I’ve been streaming a BUNCH on my Facebook page as well as our Church Facebook page (facebook.com/gilmercofctx).

I’ve also updated my YouTube Channel.

You can also jump over to INSTAGRAM and follow a fun account: @hymnstagramm

Technology, Millennials, and Church…

From time to time, I hear conversations that go like this:

“Ya know, people just don’t go to church like they used to…I remember when I was a kid, we were there every time the doors were open…”

Eventually, those conversations get to topics like social media, the internet, iPhones, technology…you know how it goes. At that moment, I will sometimes offer a question of my own, something to the effect of:

“Do you have a phone or computer and if so, how often do you check in with your friends, kids, grandkids, neighbors, etc. through that technology?” And often, the response is one like “I don’t do that stuff,” or “why would I do that” or “why do I need that…”

I know that technology, the internet, social media, smartphones and the like all have their perils and pitfalls. The least of which is how they have impaired human communication in a significant way. Just watch this video if you don’t believe me.

But I hear a recurring refrain about this generational gap that exists between millennials and boomers…I hear lots of boomers and others older than that say they wonder why they’re disconnected with younger generations and they don’t understand why they don’t go to church or participate in worship like “they did…”

And it makes me wonder…how can we help those folks, often so resistant to new things, change, and especially technology and social media, bridge that gap with the good side of all that this technological age has provided for us…I think the more we close that gap using some of the wonderful resources out there (that aren’t as hard as the media wants us to think they are), the more we’ll see relationships (which are STILL the most important thing) blossom and bloom where once they might have been prohibited by technology (on both sides of the gap, mind you).

Just fodder for thought. Not a full-blown rant, but something I think about almost daily.

Love for All…yes, ALL.

“The vilest offender who truly believes, will surely, from Jesus, a pardon receive.”

That is a lyric I’ve known all my life…and sung time after time, as I do so many, without it sinking in.

A few weeks ago, I attended something called a HYMNINAR, where I and 10-15 new friends joined together to explore the craft of hymn text writing and what an incredible week it was. That’s a post for another time.

But, over the course of that week, thinking intently and intensely about the lyrics of great hymns, we had a chance to sing a lot. One of the hymns which I don’t think I’d ever led, but had maybe sung a few times was the great hymn, Love for All. The text is by the lesser Longfellow, Samuel. The tune most often associated with it is HORTON (Schnyder) and is 7.7.7.7

While all of this hymn lyric is absolutely stunning, rich and deep with good theology, there’s a particular verse that really stunned me as I sang it. How often have I been the “prodigal” son? More often than I care to admit…but thanks be to God, the Father, waiting and willing, stands, waiting expectantly to receive me…to receive us…each and every time we stray and return.

     See! My Father waiting stands;
See! He reaches out His hands;
God is love, I know, I see,
Love for me, yes, even me.

Incredibly poignant to sing these words and let then sink into your heart.

This is GRACE…this is the GOSPEL.

AMEN.

––––– ––––– ––––– –––––

Here’s the entire lyric:

Love for all! and can it be?
Can I hope it is for me?
I, who strayed so long ago,
Strayed so far, and fell so low!

I, the disobedient child,
Wayward, passionate, and wild;
I, who left my Father’s home
In forbidden ways to roam!

I, who spurned his loving hold,
I, who would not be controlled;
I, who would not hear his call,
I, the willful prodigal!

I, who wasted and misspent
Every talent he had lent;
I, who sinned again, again,
Giving every passion reign!

To my Father can I go?
At his feet myself I’ll throw,
In his house there yet may be
Place, a servant’s place for me.

See, my Father waiting stands;
See, he reaches out his hands:
God is love! I know, I see,
Love for me–yes, even me.

(Love for All, hymnary.org)