“For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him whom he is singing about/to/for.”
—St. Augustine of Hippo
Sometimes I catch my husband glancing at me with a smile on his face. I will pause for a moment and wonder why. Then I realize I’ve been singing all along, entirely unaware of the song in my heart pouring out of my lips. I blush and say, “I’ve got the music in me.” And it’s as if it overpowers me, takes over me, and spontaneously soars from my mouth.
But it’s more than music that is in me. Clearly, obviously, without question, it is God. How else can you explain that something coming from nothing, the quiet one moment and the exuberant rising and falling of voice the next? And how can you explain the feeling I get when I let my mind go, my thoughts fall away, and the magnificent fervor of song rise up through my whole body?
I truly believe that singing is a kind of prayer. And it is certainly a form of praise. So often in prayer we seek things, bring petitions, ask things of God. This is perfectly acceptable. In fact, he tells us to do this, encourages us to come to him. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to send him praise as well? Can you imagine how God must feel when, after listening to so many pleas and woes and recitations of complaints and fears, He hears someone glorifying Him, singing out the joy that God inspires within?
Sometimes when I don’t know what to say, when words have fled, when my thoughts are all a jumble, all I have is song. They are the songs I learned long before I could actually read the words and follow along in the hymnal, some of the earliest sounds of my memory, songs that have remained ingrained in my mind long after the Periodic Table of the Elements and sine, cosine, and tangent formulas have faded away. I reach for these songs, and they never fail me. They always deliver me from the immediate situation, from my worry, from my fear and bring me to a place far beyond those things. I actually feel lifted up when I lift up my voice.
I do it in the shower. A lot. I do it when I wash dishes or fold clothes. I whisper those wonderful words as I fall asleep at night. Recently, when pacing back and forth watching my second graders pick apart their lunches, I found myself singing under my breath.
Not until adulthood, when I really began to seriously read the Bible, did I discover how closely those good old church songs adhere to the words of Jesus, to the poetry of the Psalms, the messages of the Gospels. I never thought I knew many Bible verses word for word, but then I realized when singing out that I knew far more of them through song than I ever realized.
St. Therese of Lisieux said that “prayer is a surge of the heart.” I can think of no greater example of that than letting your voice ring out in praise of Him.