Why Don’t All Church Goers Sing?


30 March 2007






I have noticed at church that probably more than half of the attendees do not sing. Why is that?


Singing. When I think about singing, I realize what a strange human activity it really is.


I hate musical movies. Just seems totally wrong for people to be “singing in the rain”. When was the last time you saw people walking down the street, singing or if you did, what did you think about them? A little touched, perhaps?


Now I have no problem singing in public, which I trace right back to elementary school when in every grade, starting in the 4th or so, we had group singing. And then there was the singing at Christmas and the honor it was to be selected to sing in the Christmas spectacular held for the public.


Perhaps singing in public is like getting up and speaking in front of others, something most people are not comfortable doing but doesn’t the large group gathered at a church provide some level of anonymity? I mean I sing in church but since I do not have a good singing voice, I sing softly, but I sing. So what prohibits others from singing in church? Is it that they do not think it is mandatory and are not going to do anything, which is not? Or have they never sung in their life, even in the shower? Or have they been told or otherwise believe they can not sing a note?


My son sings in a rock and roll band and tells me that it has taken him some time to find “his voice” and feel comfortable on a stage in front of an audience and intellectually, I can understand this, even though I have never experienced it myself. Yes, being a solo singer would be tough to handle and I think it would be hard to find “your voice”, but singing in church, in the group? I wonder? Do people feel silly singing in church or singing at? I know that in some religions or faiths, singing and dancing is frowned upon as being not pious enough in front of God or something but where I go to church, the songs are religious and not rap songs or anything and so how could they be an offense to God and be felt so by attendees?


I wonder if those that do not sing in church actually sing else where? Perhaps in the karaoke bar after enough alcohol or with friends, socializing and listening to old tunes and just having to sing out the some near and dear phrase or sentence of a song.


Now since I grew up with music, mostly via school and my father, I have always had music around and have many favorite tunes and know the words or sentences or phrases of many songs and can often sing a line or 2 of them but it has taken a long time to realize, understand that not everyone enjoys music in their life. Yes, I have come to realize, there are those that music has just never caught on with for whatever reason and so perhaps, music and singing just are not an activity a church goer does, period.


Oh, like many things I write about, whether or not the congregation sings or not is not going to change the world one way or the other but it is curious, like the reasons people do or don’t do a thing. I am just curious. I wonder if I were to actually ask a group of non-singers why they did not sing, if they would know the answer? Habit? Parents never did?


Just makes me wonder. It a church goer will not sing in church, in the group, even quietly, want is he or she not going to do, outside of church? I mean, how strong is there belief system if they can not sing in their church of choice? Perhaps a stretch on the meaning of significance of not singing in church, but I do have to wonder.


Do you think it is that these non-singers can not read? Never occurred to me? Could be, I guess. Oh, they can not read music? Now that might be the case or the case for the first time through a song but certainly not the second or third and the music just repeats with only word changes. Can not read music? I’ll bet that is it. Nothing more or less than that. No training in reading those notes on the staff and that when they go up, your voice goes up in pitch and when they go down, your voice goes down and that the black notes having meaning as to how long a note or word or part of a word is actually held. Yep, reading music or not being able to, that is the answer. I just assumed that everyone has some basic music reading skills but I bet I am wrong.


Perhaps some simple course offered at the church in reading music? Maybe by the choral director? Seems to me, the choral director would be a little frustrated when, sometimes, a song is started and other than the few people in the choir, the church is empty of voices. Perhaps just some very simply lessons would solve the problem, if that is the problem but then again, I wonder if it is not deeper like I originally thought: public embarrassment and all that.


Enough.  Just another one of my silly questions and mental roaming around.


For more Ron Stultz writings, click here.