Singing is a fellowship hazard

A significant percentage of the Australian population cannot sing. We can’t carry a tune to save our lives. How many of us are there? Based on the singing voices I hear around me in church, I would guess we account for at least half the population.

Now, it doesn’t matter how you serve up your hymn sandwich on a Sunday—with or without liturgy sauce—you are still asking us (the musical drones) to sing four or five songs. This gives us no pleasure. We stand there, impatiently droning on, counting how many verses there are still to go, and working out how to time our arrival next Sunday so that we miss at least the first hymn.

However, we recognize that the other half of the population loves to sing (being able to probably has something to do with it). We don’t want to deny them their pleasure, but … well, really … we non-singers have been very patient for a very long time. Of course we still like to hear good music, and we are moved by the words of the great hymns—but why, oh why, do you insist that we sing the wretched things?

Here is the problem: how do you let the singers sing, while not compelling the non-singers to drone along with them? And here is the solution: divide the church building in half—singers on the left, non-singers on the right.

When you arrive on Sunday morning, you would be greeted by an usher who asks politely, “Singing or non-Singing?”. Rather like arriving at a wedding, in fact—“Bride or groom?”—or a restaurant—“Smoking or non-smoking?”. The non-singing part of the church would have signs at regular intervals, small white signs showing a drawing of a singer in full voice, surrounded by a red circle and overlaid by a diagonal red warning slash.

When each hymn starts the singing half of the congregation rise to their feet, turn to face the non-singers (we get to stay seated), and sing their hearts out. This is a perfect solution: the drones are not forced to sing, and the singers get an audience.

Mind you, it’s only a temporary solution. Eventually, singing will be recognized as the danger to health that it is and be banned inside all buildings. Singers will gather in small groups on the steps of churches to have a quick surreptitious sing-song. Oh, hurry the day!

Mind you, I’m laughing through my tears. When, oh when, will some thought be given to the weekly agony of those whose throats are not equipped for song?

Comments are closed.