Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sung Prayers

Some time back, I posted that in prayer I’ve sometimes found myself slipping into a mode where my mouth is saying the words, but my heart and mind are somewhere else. In other words, my prayers were at times too much like “Oh Lord, we beseech Thee, etcetera etcetera etcetera. Amen.”

I’ve found a good remedy for that in sung prayers.

The first time I can remember coming across sung prayers was listening to BBC3’s Choral Evensong. I found myself moved by the singing of the collects even before I knew that they were collects or that collects were not times to take an offering.

Reasons I like sung prayers:

1. They bring out that these are carefully chosen words addressed to a holy God.

2. They emphasize the serious nature of the church at prayer.

3. They slow the prayer down, so one can dwell on the words more.

4. If sung well, they add to the sacred atmosphere of a service and to the emotion of the prayer. (One pitfall is that poor chanting or singing can instead be hard on the ear and distracting.)

5. They help the listener (certainly, this listener) get into the prayers with the heart and emotions.

And this weekend, God willing, I will get to visit a favorite church of mine that sings the prayers, the Gospel, and Lord knows what else, Smokey Matt’s!.

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