by Brandy Webb
I know that I have written about music before, but the other day I heard something that I didn’t even know in regards to music. I was driving to town listening to a radio program, and the speaker was listing all the benefits of singing with other people. Studies have shown that group singing benefits our health and well-being. I knew I enjoyed singing, but I didn’t know that there were actually positive health benefits to singing, especially when you sing in a group.
Now, I haven’t done a lot of research. There are some books out there that shed light on all the various studies done regarding group singing. Two are This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin, and Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others by Stacy Horn. I have not read either book. The radio program I was listening to was about the Imperfect Harmony book, and I read about the other book when I got home and was researching what was said on the radio program.
I am not going to write a research paper, but I did want to share some of the health benefits of singing with others. I read that a study done at Bath University found out that singing together creates a feeling of togetherness. Another study, done by University of Gothenburg, found that singing in a choir regulated heart rates. Studies have also shown that group singing reduces stress levels and depression. In fact, I read somewhere—sorry I forgot to bookmark it—that some psychologists prescribe people to sing every weekend at their church with the congregation to help them overcome anxiety. Yes, you can receive these benefits from just singing praises with the congregation at church. You do not have to join a choir.
Other studies have shown that group singing benefited people suffering from Parkinson’s disease and lung cancer, but the biggest surprise for me when I was looking into this was that a study done by Harvard and Yale in 2008 found that it increases life expectancy. I will post some links to the sites that I found this info at the bottom of my blog.
So, you may be saying, well that is great, but what does that have to do with a Christian blog. Well, it affirms what we read about singing in the Bible. I have looked at singing praises to God as a way of expressing my love towards Him and to honor Him. Now, I see that it also benefits us physically and psychologically. Studies also showed that group singing increased endorphins and oxytocin, which some call the “friendship chemical” (NPR article). Maybe that is why we have over a hundred verses in the Bible that tell us to sing.
The neat thing that I did read was that it doesn’t matter if you can sing that well or not. What matters is singing together, period. Make a joyful noise even if it is a little off key. Singing with others draws us closer to each other and closer to God. Therefore, when we come together as a group on our Sabbaths and Holy Days, we should willingly sing together.
I have visited churches that really love to sing, and it revives me. It brings a sense of calm and joy when singing praises to God together. Sometimes I even get goose bumps. I really enjoy when the praise music is sung out with joy from the congregation, regardless if it is all hymns or modern praise music. That is why I wanted to share the benefits of group singing. God loves us so much that He created music, which not only can be used to praise Him, but also to edify each other. Therefore:
1Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.
3 Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy. – Psalms 33:1-3