October 2018: Thought For The Month
Things to make your heart sing!
Friday evenings for me tend to be spent transporting a variety of people from one destination in Fishponds to another. I drop some of our household at choir practice, then dash with others up the Lodge Causeway to swimming, before doing the whole thing again in reverse in order to get everyone back home again. It feels a little hectic for a Friday night. Yet in the middle of this, like with much in life, there are moments of oceanic peaceful bliss. For 15 minutes on that evening I get to sit at the back of church and listen to the children’s choir practice. Their gentle humming of scales and notes and rhythmic songs that are used to warm up small voices starts to reverberate around All Saints. By the end of practice, I return to a myriad of voices singing confidently in different parts. God for me seems to grant a little peace and joy in the sound that is being created. Evensong on a Sunday at St Mary’s for me also provides another little ocean of calm and sound to escape into. Listening to people sing is something that feels restorative, restful and prayer filled.
Singing is not for everyone: I often meet people who tell me they can’t sing. Often I find that, after a little questioning, people can sing, it’s just they are not very confident about it. Even if someone proves to me that they are in fact tone deaf (normally by regaling me with a song in the middle of Morrisons!) I still find that that they enjoy listening to others, or music in general. I believe that there is something powerful about singing, and perhaps more so when people sing together in groups. The rise in the number of choirs in recent years is perhaps testament to this. As Remembrance Day, and 100 years since the signing of the Armistice, approaches I am reminded of the power of singing in the trenches at Christmas. The peaceful encounter between soldiers across no-mans land, according to most accounts, began with the singing of carols in the opposing trenches. And again this year, people will gather in Fishponds to sing together and remember on the 11th November.
Singing is a thread woven through the Bible stories – whether that is Saint Paul singing to fellow prisoners, or the songs of praise and sorrow that sweep through the book of psalms in the Old Testament. It seems that putting words into rhythms and notes adds density and depth that speaks of something beyond ourselves. Two years ago, All Saints and St Mary’s launched the Fishponds Big Sing and it returns again this October. The vision was simply that singing brings people together and can build community. A common purpose simply for the sake of taking part in something collectively that feels heartfelt, and joyful. So if you want to sing, or listen to people sing together, then why not join others in Fishponds over the course of the next few months. Look out for choirs that you can join, or concerts or services you can go attend. As we head towards Christmas, there are often places to join in with this amazing gift of voice that we have been given. I look forward to seeing (and hearing) you at them.
Lizzie Kesteven (Vicar of All Saints and St Mary’s Fishponds)