Like Fragrant Incense

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An Upstairs Cliros Where Choir Sings Behind Congregation

Music is unique among the liturgical arts in that it’s something we have to do every time we come to church. Iconography, architecture, church furnishings, liturgical books, all these are things an artist can produce once and be done with. But music is never finished. As soon as you sing a note it vanishes forever. As soon as the service is over, whatever beauty you achieved during it has to be produced all over again in the next service. ~Benedict Sheehan

Beautiful church singing comes through prayer, attention to the hymns’ text, and by actively watching the director. Liturgical singing is both a physical and spiritual effort… It’s our living Prayer Before the Ambo.

St. Augustine says, When you sing, you pray twice.

For millennium, while Christian Choristers have basked in the spiritual blessings of psalmody, science has more recently determined the physical health benefits of singing. It’s been documented that choral singing synchronizes the choir’s heart rates – especially during slow chants.

In choral church singing, single voices should never stand out. Individuality ceases when we humbly work on hearing each another. Listening carefully is the only way a choir can blend properly to create true harmony. This could be said in regards to many other things in life.

When one has spare time, it’s wonderful to also sing at home… with or without accompaniment. It literally keeps one out of mischief for awhile (yes!), and uplifts our spirits.

Singing spiritual songs from the heart at any time is a musical metamorphosis. Hymns of consolation, joy and thanksgiving help us grow closer to God… and He blesses all who engage in the beauty of His Church!

We ought to offer up doxologies to God with a humble heart, in order that they may be welcome, like fragrant incense. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ~ Colossians 3:16 

Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! ~ Psalm 47:6 

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! ~ Psalm 96:1

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! ~ Psalm 98:4 

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!  ~ Psalm 100:2

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. ~ Psalm 104:33

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!  ~ Psalm 105:2

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