I was delighted last Sunday that the COVID numbers were down enough that we could again resume in-person worship at the Informal Family Service. One of the features of our worship services that I have missed the most during quarantine is singing together. I am very grateful to Graham Bier and all our musicians and audio/video operators for continuing to provide excellent soloists, quartets, instrumentalists, recording and broadcasting, and much more to keep our music alive over the past couple of years. I am grateful for the protection masks have provided and lives they have saved. At the same time I am really looking forward to a time when we can again gather in large, close groups with voices unmuffled by masks, and I am glad that Graham has plans to help us all raise our voices as the COVID numbers drop.
The Book of Revelation describes choirs of angels singing to the Lord (Revelation 5:9, 14:3, 15:3), and Swedenborg heard many choirs of angels, reporting that “In heaven praise to the Lord is offered in most instances by choirs” (Secrets of Heaven 8115). “No human singing, however heavenly its sweetness and harmony, can compare with that of those angelic choirs.” (Secrets of Heaven 3893) “Heavenly songs are nothing else but voiced affections.” (Married Love 55)
Often people who are preparing for heaven in the next life join choirs to better learn how to think and act in harmony with others (Secrets of Heaven 2595). It makes me think that some of the divisiveness we have experienced may be lessened when we can again take off our masks and sing together.
Often even without masks our singing in this life is hindered by our physical limitations and lack of skill. I envy those whose voices are clearer, stronger, and more expressive. It’s as if our physical bodies mask our feelings, which always come through as muffled compared to the free expression we will experience in the next life. So while I am definitely looking forward to unmasked, close harmony in the coming months as the pandemic fades, I am even more looking forward to the next life when we drop the pretenses and defenses that make our expressions of love in this world awkward and unclear, and we experience harmony in song that is fully expressive of harmony in heart and spirit.