Posted August 26, 2015
The tradition of singing at liturgy has been a part of our Judeo-Christian heritage for millennia. Even though we often look at the Book of Psalms as only poetry and scripture, they were actually intended to be accompanied always by music. A significant portion of church documents discuss the revered place that music holds in our Catholic history…both past and present. Whether it be songs of praise or lamentation, music has a great spiritual power to heal our aching souls or to lift our hearts in recognizing the divine presence in our lives. You might be well familiar with the spiritual benefits of song, BUT … did you know that singing can not only provide spiritual benefits, it can also increase physical and mental health as well. Recently, an article appeared in the Express Tribune with the International NY Times on the physical benefits of singing.
Let me mention five:
- Singing boosts cardiovascular health:
Raising one’s voice in song is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. It decreases risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.
- Singing stimulates the brain:
Proclaiming song requires memorizing lyrics and following a melody as well as connecting words with emotion. Breathing while singing brings more oxygen to the brain, which results in neurons firing, enhancing mental awareness, one’s concentration and memory.
- Singing reduces stress:
When you whistle a tune or chant a hymn, your brain releases feel-good chemicals including endorphins. This makes singing an effective mood-lifter and a valuable tool in alleviating depression. Singing with a group develops a sense of community and belonging, thereby reducing anxiety. Singing is even used as therapy for people with cancer, dementia, and for stroke survivors.
- Singing is a natural healer:
Other than time, music is a great healer. Singing has similar effects on the body and mind. It ensures physical, mental, psychological and social well-being. It also improves the posture and breathing, as it increases the capacity of the respiratory system. It is wholistic and fundamentally human.
- Singing builds confidence:
As you may recall from the movie “The King’s Speech,” singing helps develop skills to speak in a natural, powerful and confident voice. It can improve your ability to use your speaking voice with more clarity and confidence. Singing releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps reduce anxiety, thus helping you overcome your fear of public speaking. Oxytocin also increases feelings of trust, which can strengthen confidence -- not only in yourself but also in those around you.
Dr. Mark Bailey, Director of Music
You might have known this article would lead to our asking you to consider using your God-given voice in a way that enhances our worship each Sunday. If you would like to join our choir or participate in our music program, please send an email to Dr. Mark Bailey at