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  • Helms Jarrell

Singing Our Lives

There were two things you could count on in car rides with my Mom when I was a child. If she was turning left and there was a lot of traffic, before pushing us out into the flow of cars, she would holler “Hold on to your britches!” and we’d brace ourselves for the accelerating turn. In slower traffic or a stand still, Mom would sing a note and we’d know just what to do. My brother would sing one third higher and then I’d join in. Three strands together, we’d make the chord.


Our family is full of musicians. Mama played the organ and directed the choir, Nana played the Great American Songbook by ear on the piano. Dad played the viola and sang in the choir. Mom loved musical theater and competed with singing in the Miss North Carolina Pageant. Family gatherings often centered around the piano. My cousins debuted the piece they composed and the family finale was “Blue Skies.” Often, after dinner, I danced and sang while Mom played nursery rhymes set to song.

At four years old, we joined the Music Makers choir at church. With our big red bows and white mini-robes, we sang about Jesus and played Jingle Bells. By the time I was in High School, the youth choir performed musicals in which I often had a solo. Mom was the youth choir director and I was the proud apprentice who went off to college and joined a traveling ensemble and directed a college choir. Music was in my blood, and also played an important role in my marriage. (pun intended) My husband is a professional musician with whom I have recorded a few songs.


There is something altogether unspeakable about the joy, unity, harmony, expression, peace, and creativity that is unleashed through the practice of singing together. The ancient practice of singing can be traced back throughout time and space. It can be heard in oceans, forests, landscapes of wonder, and vibrant city streets. The power of music is mysterious and other-worldly, transcendent.


In the book Practicing Our Faith, edited by Dorothy C. Bass, Don E. Saliers writes, “[the] knitting of an embodied theology happens whenever Christian congregations sing.” The practice of singing together cultivates an embodied faith: listening deeply, unifying voices, communal truth telling, and active solidarity. Music has the power to “sound prophecy- to ring out in opposition to injustice” through communal rhythm, voices, in unison and in harmony with one another. Singing together gives “voice to individual people in praise, lament, and need, but it doesn't leave them isolated, surrounding them instead with a great choir.” (* Practicing Our Faith, Don E. Saliers)


“Where people sing of God, an embodied theology- a way of living and thinking about life in relationship with God-is formed and expressed.” *

Let us come together to sing

Sunday, August 1st, 6-7:30pm

Gather under the shade of the front porch of 2910 Parkway Ave to practice singing together.



Why We Sing…


One: Friends and Folks, why do we sing? One reason we sing is because it is fun.

All: Singing enlivens us. Singing is creative and rhythmic. Singing is fun!

One: Good people, why do we sing? We learn by singing.

All: Singing is a form of teaching that uses poetry to open us to God.

One: Beloved, why do we sing? We sing because it brings us together.

All: In unison and harmonies, we breathe together, listen closely, express ourselves individually, and also unify our voices as one.

One: Folks, why do we sing? Share one word that describes why we sing together

All: [One at a time, everyone has an opportunity to share one word about why we choose to sing]


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