how can I keep from singing?

Apparently it doesn’t take much.

Oh, sorry. That sentence is the answer to the question in the title.

I know. You thought I was talking about the song that Pete Seeger made famous, that Enya sang, that Bruce Springsteen sang. You thought I was talking about the song that I first heard from Noel Paul Stookey when I was a college student 30 years ago, the song that our daughter is singing in one of her school choirs this winter.

Really, it’s a question that has led to the second of my words for this new year. The first was “focus“. The second is “singing“.

That seems to be an odd word for a year. It’s not very specific. It’s not very productive.


Singing conveys an attitude. It conveys a sense of gratitude, of contentedness. At least for me. And I realized during Christmas that I wasn’t singing. There were carols and I wasn’t singing along. In fact, there is singing every Sunday morning and I realized that I’m not singing, not consistently.  I have realized that there is a tightness when I sing.

So I have decided that this year I will sing. It will take practice. It will take choosing to sing. It will take reloading my iPod with singable songs. It will mean paying attention to lyrics. It will mean paying attention.

But I’m guessing that I will be different when I start singing again.

You know, it’s funny. Robert Lowry, the writer of the song mentioned earlier, looked at his songwriting as less important than his preaching. He was, after all, a preacher. But no one knows his sermons. Many people have heard and sung and learned and clung to his songs.

Maybe singing matters after all.


How can I keep from singing?

Lyrics by Robert Lowry

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?


6 responses to “how can I keep from singing?

  1. Compelling title. The answer is far too true. We get distracted from the source of our song and soon we lose the heart for singing.

    Thanks for posting this. It has helped encourage me on my journey back to the place where I would sing too.

    God is good!


  2. OK. It’s kinda scary how sometimes you write about me, thinking you’re writing about yourself. Working on it too.

  3. lonewold and Jim –
    i’m just looking in the mirror. honest. 🙂

  4. I’ve had this sort of thought the last couple of years, but haven’t really done anything intentional about it. So far, 2009 has been intentionally filled with music. And not just music, but music that touches me personally and resonates with where my heart/head is.

    I have to say, the itunes genius playlist feature has allowed me to create some dynamic playlists quickly without eating into my productivity or being so random that my personal music feels like bad radio.

    Now to go turn on my music.

  5. Chris. I have a playlist called ‘recharge.’ i just supplemented it
    intemtionally. It’s playing now.

  6. Pingback: remembering three words 8 ways « Levite Chronicles