The beautiful hymn title above reminds us all that singing lifts our hearts and spirits, giving us the courage and strength to persevere in all types of challenges. We sing to express joy bursting forth from our hearts. We sing to grieve our departed loved ones. Most of all, we sing because we lose our individuality and become greater than the sum of our parts. Studies have shown that when people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize. Singing together is an incredible symbol of the unity of the Body of Christ, many different parts living as one Church.
As we carefully resume public celebration of Mass, it’s important that we keep from singing though. Several studies have shown that singing expels 6 to 10 times the amount of aerosol droplets that speaking does. This greatly increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus. In an abundance of caution, recognizing that allowing people to attend Mass is the most important thing, the archdiocese has strongly recommended against congregational singing at this time. That means, for the foreseeable future, the ordinary of the Mass (the unchanging parts, like the Gloria, Holy Holy, and Lamb of God) will be spoken, while the proper of the Mass (the entrance, offertory, and communion) will be sung aloud by the musicians alone.
A few weeks into the quarantine and suspension of public Masses, I found myself daydreaming frequently of what our return to Mass would be like. I was so excited to choose music full of alleluias, music with which we all could sing our hearts out. I have gravely missed the Body of Christ, the people of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, and couldn’t wait to get right back to singing with you. But, in the words of Bishop Robert McClory, it’s “better right than rushed.” This means that we will have to sing only in our hearts for now. I pray this doesn’t last long. As soon as it is safe to allow congregational singing, we will enthusiastically “cry out in joy to the Lord” as one Body once again.
Director of Music