A few years ago I saw a program on the Travel Channel about the people of Scandinavia and how they celebrate the Summer Solstice. In case you don't know that term, that is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and usually comes sometimes between June 20 and 22. On that day, the people of the Scandinavian countries have festivals that last long into the night because they have daylight for most of the hours of the day and night. The sun shines almost around the clock on that day so they celebrate and eat and drink and sing....yes, that is right, they sing. The program showed long tables filled with traditional Scandinavian fare and people sitting side by side lifting their glasses into the air while they sang folk songs and other songs that they all know. Their voices were loud and strong and they were not ashamed to sing out along with their neighbors.
After seeing that program I wondered why it is that Americans are so hesitant to sing unless they are on American Idol or America's Got Talent or some other reality show that rewards them for their efforts. Why can't we as a country and as a people simply sing with one another to just enjoy the sound of our singing? Why do people shush each other when someone begins singing in a public place, acting embarrassed and ashamed because someone decided to sing?
A recent entry in Christian Century magazine reported, "People still sing together in churches and ballparks, but what is absent in America...is 'community-oriented, community building, sometimes spontaneous' singing. One obstacle is the lack of a common repertoire of songs. 'Since we're out of practice as a society, the person who dares to begin a song risks having no one join her.'" I think the author of this short piece hits the nail right on its head. We as a country rarely sing together. Even in church when we sing hymns, some people sing along and others just stand there and look around at the ceiling or at others. They do not even attempt to sing. I wonder if this is because someone in their lives was critical of their singing or told them that they cannot sing so they stopped trying.
When I was a kid, I would take a bath and sing while in the bathtub. I loved to sing all manner of things I had heard on television or at school or songs that were part of musical presentations I had heard somewhere. I may not have known all the words but sung the ones I knew and then added in "la-la-la" for the ones I did not know. Many times when I got out of the tub all squeaky clean, my dear mother would say, "It sounds like some old cow bawling in there." She did not appreciate my singing and rarely gave me a compliment for singing. I think she is in the "embarrassed" category of how persons react to others around them singing.
I love to sing and I will sing just about anywhere and for any reason. Sometimes I sing an answer to a question I was asked just to see how someone will react. I sing show tunes, songs I have heard on the radio, songs old and new, even songs that I really don't know but can make up words to go along with the tune. I think singing is something that enlivens one's spirit and helps lift your spirit if you are feeling a bit down. I sometimes wish people would just break out into song now and then and make the world a really happy place in which to live.
Singing is something that everyone can do, even those who think that they cannot "carry a tune in a bucket." Many people do not sing because they think they sing badly. They think that people would laugh at them if they tried to sing around others. I have heard only one person sing that I thought should have been silenced and even I did not tell him to hush. I left that up to grumpy people present when he sang who said, "Never do that again!" I am all for singing...even for grumpy people.