A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

A Joyful Noise

Posted on: June 2, 2014

I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;

before the angels I sing your praise;

I bow down toward your holy temple

and give thanks to your name for your mercy and your faithfulness;

for you have exalted above everything

your name and your word.

~ Psalm 138:1-2*

As we celebrated the feast of the Ascension yesterday, I noticed something wonderful: many people in the congregation were singing the praise songs and sounding joyful.

One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is the singing—the hymns, Kyrie, Gloria, psalm responses, and all the rest. When a cold or allergies leave my throat scratchy or sore, I really miss singing during Mass.

The Scriptures encourage us to praise God in song, no matter what our circumstances may be. For example, in the Old Testament, Exodus 15 tells us that Moses and the Israelites sang praises to God after he delivered them from slavery; in the New Testament, Acts 16:25 tells us that “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” while they were in prison. And as the apostle Paul reminds us, we should sing with the spirit and the mind (see 1 Corinthians 14:15).

Many of the Psalms encourage us to praise God in song, as in these verses:

O come, let us sing to the LORD:

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1-2)

Sometimes, though, we can worry too much about whether we sing well. I think the point is to sing out of our love for God and our desire to thank him for the ways he has blessed us and cared for us, and not to be concerned about whether our pitch is perfect—the way young children sing at Mass.

As Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 remind us, everyone has different gifts. I’m not really comfortable praying out loud or leading others in prayer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t offer prayers from my heart. By the same token, although we may not have the gift of a beautiful singing voice, we should still use our voices to praise God. People around us may hear the wrong notes, but God hears what’s in our hearts (see 1 Samuel 16:7).

I pray that we would sing with joy at Mass—even if we believe we can’t carry a tune in a basket.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands!

Serve the LORD with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:1-2)

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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