Inspiring Generosity


How Can I Keep from Singing?

                        I wish I could sing this like this. TeeFarm @ Pixabay

Let’s start with some good news.

The story started circulating earlier, but this morning there was an in-depth Washington Post article about it. During the devastating Irish Potato Famine in 1847, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma – who had been devastated themselves by the Trail of Tears – gathered together $170 ($5,000 in today’s dollars) and sent it to help struggling Irish families survive starvation. Currently, the COVID crisis has hit Native Americans particularly hard – with 3,200 cases in the Hopi and Navajo reservations in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. The Irish have raised approximately $820,000 to support these Native American families. You can also help support Hopi and Navajo families by donating here. In spite of the tragedy that is COVID, this is a hope-filled story of generosity.
Now, (sorry) on to more difficult news.

You thought “murder hornets” were bad. Who knew that singing in and with a crowd indoors could be dangerous too? Yep. Two recent articles outlined the hazards of singing during a coronavirus pandemic. One was from the Washington Post and another was a blog post written by Erin Bromage, a Comparative Immunologist and Professor of Biology at the U of Massachusetts. Last semester he taught a course on the Ecology of Infectious Diseases.
According to Bromage, singing, “to a greater degree than talking, aerosolizes respiratory droplets extraordinarily well. Deep-breathing while singing facilitate[s]…respiratory droplets getting deep into the lungs.” This is primarily based on the infamous community choir rehearsal in Skagit Valley early in the pandemic. Everyone at that rehearsal was asymptomatic, they followed social distancing, they were careful…and yet, according to the Los Angeles Times, 45 out of 60 choir members became ill and two of them died.
A similar case hit in Germany where 59 out of 78 singers in Berlin’s Protestant cathedral choir became ill. As a result, Germany has banned communal singing in some areas.
Christianity Today recently unveiled their suggestions for churches in “Meeting Safely.” In their estimation, singing is ripe for high transmission. For the foreseeable future, they recommend no singing unless one is wearing a face mask. Other organizations recommend no singing at all and instead encourage using recorded music, videos, or instrumentals. As one Florida pastor who banned communal singing said, “The decision [to not sing] probably applies to all faiths, if they’re blowing air out of their lungs onto furniture and other things.”

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, clearly did not have to deal with this kind of pandemic. In his “directions for singing,” rule #4 (out of seven) states: “Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.”
Oh, dear John…I’m afraid we are going to have to respectfully decline direction #4 for at least a year.
I have no idea what instructions will be given to congregations in the coming months around this notion of singing together. I do know that the possibility of “no singing” is heartbreaking. But gratefully, singing can come in all forms.
Whether we’re singing with a mosaic choir on a screen or belting it out alone as we worship on-line, the song in us does not stop. And, even more importantly, we can sing through our actions of kindness, generosity, and hopefulness.
Perhaps our collective singing will be silenced for a season but…

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing
It finds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?
What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
How can I keep from singing?

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Check out this singing: “Nessun Dornma…alla Corona.” We all need a laugh. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.


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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.