He who sings prays twice

Image Edward Morton

Up until this year, I never seriously thought about including singing in catechesis. I noticed in some of the resources we use that they recommended hymns or songs for the catechetical session, but I flipped past these suggestions. Organising a catechetical session is hard work enough without finding a musician, needless to mention the impossible , awkward task of actually getting people to sing. Let’s just say, British Catholics are not known for their singing.

In the back of my mind, though, I’ve always been aware of the power of singing, especially of praise. When we praise God, we forget for a moment our troubles and problems, and praise him because he is who he is. Regardless of what we ‘get’ from him. Praise takes us out of ourselves, and I’ve found, it’s one of the best things you can do when you’re saddened, discouraged or grumpy. Try it!

So, singing in catechesis this year kind of happened by accident. We’ve introduced it in Confirmation and in one of our First Communion classes, Come Follow Me. In Confirmation, one of our catechists this year just happens to be a great musician. We got the kids singing praise songs on the retreat, and this has continued into the programme each week. We begin with a song before the Liturgy of the Word, and we always have singing during the time of prayer at the end. It really adds a deeper dimension to the catechetical process… Music raises the heart to God and can therefore be a great instrument for conversion (which is the goal of catechesis!)

In the Come Follow Me sessions, you are instructed to sing with the children as you go into the ‘Holy Place of Meeting’, as you prepare your hearts to listen to the Word of God, and during the prayer time at the end. So I really had no choice. I had to sing! I am a very average singer, so this is not exactly my comfort-zone. But actually it has worked well, and I’ve discovered that when they’re a bit hyper, singing is a great way of calming kids down. It really does help them to pray. They love singing, and they love to learn new songs.

So, if you haven’t yet introduced singing into your catechesis… I encourage you to try!

As for adult catechesis – I haven’t branched out there just yet… This could be incredibly, as our young people say, ‘awkward turtle…’ Would love to hear from anyone who has incorporated this into RCIA or any other adult catechesis.

About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

7 responses to “He who sings prays twice

  • Lesley

    We use a time of prayer ans worship in CAFE adult formation sessions, and CAFe even do a worship cd for Such use. It is well received and helps set the tone of the evening and people do join in!!

  • Lisa

    I’ve always thought that in general Brits were ever-ready to sing. Pubs, rock concerts, soccer matches all seemed to be full of spontaneous group singing. Not so in real life or just not so in Catholic parishes?

    • transformedinchrist

      Yeah you’re right! But if you go into most Catholic churches, you’ll find the quality of singing pretty poor. I am sure there are many historical, social reasons behind this…perhaps being persecuted for so long? I don’t know. A lot of our church culture comes from Ireland, where singing in churches is pretty poor too.

      • Paul Rodden

        But have you ever been in an Irish pub when the instruments come out and the lusty singing begins? It’s at the top of their voices, in four part harmony, and they (the MEN) sound like professionals.

        At family wakes in our family it’s the same. They break into song at the wake around the coffin and in the kitchen and it sounds amazing. The craic is fierce – except at Mass – where they mumble and stare at the floor instead.

  • Jonathan F. Sullivan

    Singing is integral to Catholic prayer, especially liturgical prayer. I often start adult sessions with a short Service of the Word — beginning with a song or hymn! It’s a great way to get people involved right from the start. (The tricky part is picking a song that people can sing without accompaniment!)

    • transformedinchrist

      That sounds great! I think we would really struggle… Whenever we have adoration during a parents’ session and include a very simple refrain at the exposition, very few people will sing. But I agree it is so important! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Clare Vardon

    I’ve just been doing a 6 week session in my parish on Sacrosanctum Concilium. We ended each session with compline, including a couple of verses of a familiar hymn, and people did join in (and sang the Salve Regina at the end). You need to have a few people willing to join in – perhaps in different parts of the church/room to encourage others. Maybe try a familiar hymn. Good luck!

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