Nehemiah 12:43 They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

Why was the joy of Jerusalem heard across the countryside? This joy was the voice of exuberant celebratory singing. Nehemiah had led a massive construction project—rebuilding the wall around the city—following the return of the exiled children of Israel from bondage in Babylon. A proper celebration requires some kind of music.

Singing in public and social settings used to be rather common in societies all over the world, including the United States. Now it seems to be limited to singing at sporting events—usually the national anthem or “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” That makes our liturgical singing all the more important and precious, precisely because it’s so countercultural. Saint Augustine said, “Those who sing pray twice.” It’s hard to think of something more encouraging to faith than a gathering of God’s people full-throatedly singing the praises of God. May our voice indeed be “heard far away.”

MOVING FORWARD: Sing your favourite song out loud today!