Marriage & Family Life: Singing invites us to joy

by Adam Storey | August 18, 2021

Adam Storey

Earlier this month my family went on a vacation that began with a family camp in Wisconsin, and ended with visiting my wife’s parents in Minnesota. It was a refreshing week all around, and on one of the last days I had the joy of watching my kids color around their grandparents’ table while they sang a song they had learned at family camp.

 In reflecting on that moment, I’m reminded of a truth that I try to affirm as often as I can, which is that it is good to sing! Sometimes we forget this truth; singing can be treated as something best left to professionals, or something we ought only do when no one can hear us. It can even feel like an embarrassing punishment.

Yet, why do we sing? In his short book, “Only the Lover Sings,” Joseph Pieper argues that singing helps us to give voice to what cannot be said in any other way. Singing helps express our fundamental desire for happiness, our intuition that “to be” is good, and that the goodness of creation points to the goodness of the Creator. There is a longing in our hearts beyond words, something we want to say even when we don’t know how, and so we sing! 

This was definitely true for my children, who were singing “Estoy Alegre,” a Spanish song about finding joy in the companionship of Jesus. My kids don’t speak Spanish, and so much of the song was incomprehensible to them. Still, their act of singing revealed a comprehension that often goes beyond my own. In their simplicity, and through their singing, they invited me into a joy of which I can often lose sight. 

I am convinced that when we don’t sing we’re not avoiding embarrassment as much as we’re forgoing something that brings profound joy and wisdom. I’d like to challenge all of us to finish the summer by learning, or relearning, at least one song, something we can belt out--even off pitch--alone, or even better with family and friends.   

Adam Storey

Adam Storey leads the Marriage Ministry Department for the Diocese of Des Moines, which seeks to work with parishes and couples, walking with all families in all their stages, in their joys and sorrows, their celebrations and challenges.