Singing and Politics and Faith

June 27, 2015

President Obama weaves faith, politics and song together in his eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. Whatever else you think of Obama’s exercise of office, he is an apt, multi-vocal communicator. The voice of rhetoric, the voice of comedy, the voice of satire, also the voice of Bob the Builder (Yes we can), the voice of faith, and here, as before, the voice of song.

singing and politics.
singing and faith.
Both old and worthy traditions.

and the church best not give up it’s tradition of corporate singing, nor give it over to merely watching slick professionals perform our singing for us, because if we are to move political mountains, we will need to have our singing voices warm.

Cos I bet I can sing louder than you can argue, and for longer. And 60 people can sing the same proposition together – but what a different experience that is to 60 people shouting!

Voices sang in the NZ parliament when same sex marriage was legalised.
Voices sang in the foyer of the Australian parliament, just last week protesting the imprisonment of children.
Voices sang in the grieving of Charleston.

I wonder if, in worship leading this week, as our leaders call us to sing together that our hearts might be strengthened in grace to sustain us for another week, and call us to join the music of creation in praise of the God who is worthy, they might also call us to raise our voices together in the songs that sound out the prophetic call, whose rhythms pound for a parliament who might be liberated from the jingles and ditties of populism, the ever predictable, exhausting crescendo of ‘progress’ and the rigid binary of the military march.

Let music, so deeply personal as it is, lead us out from ourselves.
Let us teach one another again to gift the atmosphere with our voices, not for our own sake (piety), or for God’s sake (appeasement), but for proclamation of goodnews, albeit difficult news.
The gospel we sing is an uncomfortable message – all the better that we sing it.
Sermons are for individuals. for adults. Let it be so.
Songs are for communities. for every age. Let it also be so.

Let us remember our music unites soprano, alto, tenor, bass, baritone, treble, counter-tenors, bel canto, lyric, mezzos, cantors, chorus, trained, raw, literate, improvisers, old, crackled, iron-guts, young, pure, nasal, breathy – a politics of pentecost.

Let us rehearse together the revolution of the reign of God.

[purple glamster clergy are an optional extra!]


  1. This strikes a chord having been amused by one gentleman this morning in church racing the organist.
    It was comical and encouraging at the same time.

  2. amen sister!

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