Singing in Community, Singing our Theology

There is little in this world that is more beautiful than four-part hymn singing. Today was the Hymn Sing Chapel that occurs once every semester. It is, without doubt, everyone’s favorite chapel. For 30 minutes, we do nothing but sing hymns, sharing our favorites with our fellow students, professors, and community members. It is a time when we can all sing the old familiar hymns that everyone knows by heart and learn new ones to add to our repertoire. The chapel is usually pretty full, over 100 people, singing with all their heart, soul, and considerable vocal talent.

There’s something about singing together that is so evocative of the feeling of community here at Bethel. Something in the way that one voice is woven into the fabric of dozens of other voices. One voice by itself can be stunning. Add it to a handful of others, and it is more beautiful. Add one voice to a hundred, and the effect is powerful and otherworldly. In the same way, one student at Bethel is unique, and can stand alone. But together, the Bethel community is dynamic and beautiful, a mesh of so many different personalities, talents and worldviews.

It’s also something about the theology of the hymns we sing. Many people I know balk at the idea of discussing their faith to any degree. But give them a hymnal and they’ll sing it for you, far more compellingly and confidently than any spoken word. They’ll sing it from their heart and soul and mind, sing praise and love and grace with such feeling and passion that when the final “Amen” reverberates through the room, one cannot help but be moved by the experience.