Completely impractical ways to change the world: sing

Hilary Blake continues her summer series on completely impractical ways to change the world. Because there are so many good people and organisations talking about practical solutions to the world’s problems. Just for a change, let’s give ourselves permission to think smaller, simpler, and less practically.

I love to sing. It’s physical, cooperative, creative, expressive. Too much of our lives are virtual, individualistic, repetitive, repressing our emotions, and that plays out in harm to ourselves, those around us and the earth.

I need to sing – I’d happily have a church service without a sermon or spoken prayers, but I struggle with a service without singing (and I’m a preacher!)

Songs brings us together. They always have, from sailor’s shanties to football chants. They give us identity and shared purpose. They keep us going on the journey, sometimes literally, such as the ‘song of ascents’ in the psalms.

Songs can empower. Slaves were banned from holding their own religious gatherings, but reclaimed their faith together through singing. Many an oppressive power has been subverted in song, from nursery rhymes to union songs. Music can break down divides, as we see in the jazz or punk musicians who played music together across racial divisions. All through history, song has been part of bringing about political change.

Or take that story in the book of Acts: Paul and Silas sang in prison, and there was an earthquake and a mass prison escape!

I realise that not everyone likes to sing, for a variety of reasons. Some people reading this might be cringing just at the thought of singing, especially with others. Maybe for you there’s something else that fulfils a similar function – dance, sport, drama, slam poetry, or a walking group (tell us about it in the comments!)

The important thing is to recognise the power of simple acts that are physical, cooperative, creative and expressive.

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