Do You Sing In Church?

I could be the worst singer in my small town, but when I’m in church I sing, albeit softly.

Looking around there are those who lead the songs. My mother was in the choir for over 20 years and you can hear her high notes above the entire congregation even though she is almost 70 years old. The pastor’s voice leads out the beginning of each verse to guide the flock and keep us in harmony.

Some move their lips. Others simply stand. Children fidget.


This week I was reminded of a few stories.

The first was the story of an auditorium full of people. The speaker asked “How many of you can dance?” Every single person in the room raised their hand enthusiastically. The speaker addressed a different crowd with the same question. Only a few people in the second group raised their hands.

It wasn’t that the first group was more talented. They were children. No one had told them they couldn’t dance. Thinking about this story I am reminded how often we want to do things but we don’t because we are worried about appearances. I’m guilty. I’ll sing in my car, or to my kids, but not in front of other people. I never dance unless it is a slow song. I might be saving myself a little embarrassment, but I’m also preventing myself from having fun.

That thought led me to sad one. When my grandmother sent my father to church, she told him not to sing out loud because he had a terrible voice. Could you imagine telling your child not to sing? What worse message could you send?

As years went by my dad outgrew her advice. If you are a regular here you know he sings Johnny Cash at all hours of the day and night. Fortunately he is starting to learn some new artists. Toby Keith is the latest.

Church singing also reminds me of my youngest daughter who is a lot like me. She was painfully shy when she was young. My grandfather used to say, “If it talks it’s Hallie.” That’s the way he told my girls apart. He waited for one of them to talk and then he knew my younger daughter was the silent one.

Over the years we encouraged her to participate in dance, gymnastics, anything. She was always on the sidelines until this year when she cheered for her high school football and basketball teams. I was so happy I could have exploded with joy. She traveled around in the flock of girls before competition, more nervous than I’d ever seen her, but when she stepped on the mat her smile lit up the room.

I was proud, but even more than that I was happy that she set herself free and took hold of a scary experience. The joy she felt during those games and competitions, being part of a team, giving her all, that can’t be replaced. She took a risk and in return she was blessed with memories that will last a lifetime. Since then she has tried out for other teams, really reaching for things she never would have done before. I am so proud.


Cheerleaders Pyramid

Back to church. There is a reason we sing. The words remind us of an important message and singing them is a visceral celebration. Singing with passion releases so much emotion (whether you are in church or at a concert) and yet so few of us belt out the words. We save ourselves embarrassment but the price is high.

As you visit this blog remember something a friend said to me, “You wouldn’t worry what other people think of you, if you realized how rarely they do.” Don’t be afraid to join the conversation. Get off the sidelines and leave a comment or a personal message.

Today I’m inspired to learn to dance and sing and I hope you are to. Let’s shut off our inner critic and revel in the joy of setting ourselves free. If you stand next to me in church next week you might even hear me sing.



24 Comments on “Do You Sing In Church?”

  1. Pam Stack says:

    Another lively life lesson CJ. Thanks!

  2. cindysamuel says:

    CJ, I always sing out loud,and am the first one on the dance floor. I randomly break out in song, no matter where I am, who I am with,or who is in listening range. I have also acted in plays, skits and done puppet shows. All that being said, public-speaking terrifies me. I break out in bright red blotches all over my face,neck, and chest, and much to many peoples amazement, I truly consider myself a shy person….ok a shy person who will grab centre stage at every opportunity, as someone else. And there is honestly nothing I wouldn’t try, because I fear I would be embarrassed. If I were terrible at something, I would be the first one to laugh at myself, in hopes that I would get someone to laugh along with me. Guess I am kind of s “character”, maybe even weird….but nothing wrong with weird in my book!

  3. Nissie says:

    I’m the next American Idol. At home. I sing all the time if I’m alone or with my kids. And I dance all over the house, especially if I’m cleaning. The swiffer is a wonderful dance partner. But in public? Never.

  4. Sue Violette says:

    A great blog, CJ!! I think this crowd of children is SO go getting because we DON’T tell them they can’t do something! They are amazing! I think I’m somewhere between you and C-L-I sing at church…not fond of karaoke!…I dance-though I may not always be the first on the floor (depends on how much I love the song). This is a great reminder to just go for it! Thanks!!

  5. sscarlott says:

    I figure if I can’t provide inspiration at least I can provide comic relief.

  6. Lynn Standley says:

    I love, love, love to sing. Forget karoke, but in church, I just can’t get enough! I even find my co-workers looking at me, then realize I’m singing or whistling. Singing just makes me feel good, all the way down to my soul. (Even if I’m NOT the next American Idol! LOL) Thanks so much for you blog!

    • cjwestkills says:

      You really made the point of my post. The great thing about singing is how it makes YOU feel. Good for you.

      Thanks for visiting. I hope you’ll come back and see me again.

  7. Dawnk says:

    Singing isn’t one of my natural talents, thank goodness God loves the crow as well as the nightingale. I recently had major surgery under spinal anaesthetic and took my MP3 player with me, but was really worried that I might start to sing along with it. It may just have been enough to make them proceed to a general anaesthetic!

  8. Lee Tyrrell says:

    I AM a singer – I sing lead in a registered Sweet Adelines International Quartet. My husband, however, is most definitely NOT a singer. As he frequently says about himself – “couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket”. (Well, really, who could?) Anyway, we attend church almost every Sunday morning, and when the congregation sings hymns, he sings loudly and with joy for our Lord. It doesn’t matter if he’s on pitch or not. God loves him and his off tune singing! And I do too!!!

    • cjwestkills says:

      That’s fantastic.

      The point is that by singing with gusto he is expressing his joy and getting more out of the service than if he stood quietly and watched everyone else sing.

      Good for him!!!

  9. Cassia says:

    I love singing and do it as often as I can. It would soothe my girls when they were little. As they learned how to talk, it hurt a bit when they would whine and ask me not to.

    I sang for a quartet group in church from the age of 17 to 23. While my life has changed and I can no longer commit the time into that, I still love singing and do my best whenever the occasion calls for it.

    I figured out the reason to why my children don’t want me to sing. It is because they want to be heard when they learn a song and sing. When they are scared or needing something soothing at bed time, they shyly ask me to sing them “Raindrops on Roses”, their name for “My Favorite Things” from the “Sound of Music”.

    While music is a balm to the soul; singing is therapy.

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