What I Want to Remember When English Churches Sing Again

Worship music is important, but God cares more about the heart.

My eldest sons, aged 8 and 6, stayed up to watch England beat Denmark 2–1 in the Euro 2020 semifinal last week. It was very exciting and, caught up in the soccer spirit, they invented their own football song:

England, England, for you we sing

You’re gonna win the Euros thing

I’m not sure if they knew what the “Euros thing” actually was, or that England, which lays claim to the invention of soccer, hadn’t reached the final match of a major tournament in 55 years. But it turns out you can sing with excitement even if you don’t fully understand what you’re singing about. Joy makes people sing.

There is no group in the world for whom singing is more natural and appropriate than Christians. Here in England, we are eagerly anticipating singing together again. The UK government has announced that all COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on July 19, including limitations on congregational singing in England. (Scotland and Wales have already lifted this ban.)

Groups, including religious groups, have not been allowed to sing indoors together since March 2020. For some of this time, only three designated people were permitted to sing to a socially distanced congregation, with many churches using a hybrid model of virtual and in-person services.

Now that churches in England can sing again, it’s important to reflect on why we sing, as well as reflect on the lessons from the pandemic. I work as a lecturer for a small Christian college, the Nexus Institute of Creative Arts (ICA). Back in March 2020, our principal shared with our school that he believed this season wasn’t a time to pause normal proceedings until we can go back to how things were, but a time to learn and grow—COVID-19 …

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