I went to hear Daniel J. Levitin speak awhile back. He wrote The World in Six Songs and This Is Your Brain on Music, neither of which I've read. His talk was inspiring, all about the ways humans communicate emotions through songs . At the end of his talk, we asked questions, of course. The last person to speak lamented the fact that regular people don't get much chance to sing anymore -- that music-making is now done only by professionals. I happened to be sitting in the front row, so Daniel heard me say, "We could sing something right now." And we did! He led us in "If I Had a Hammer"! It was a lot of fun. Right afterwards, people were energized and happy. One woman immediately got on her cell phone to announce: "At the end, we sang 'If I Had a Hammer'!" Several people thanked me for my inspiration.
This experience has stayed with me because I realize how very blessed we church-goers are to have the opportunity to sing every week. Regular folks singing in groups is now so rare that it is counter-cultural. But we get to experience this every weekend. I hadn't thought of our hymn-singing in quite this way before, even though we are a congregation that sings with gusto. I've been told that this is not always the case.