Tomorrow I am having my first singing lesson – 40 years after being told that I couldn’t sing and I should no longer be in the Primary School choir. It is a common experience – so many people tell me they can’t sing and have similar childhood stories. I empathise with them and joke about my nervousness that my singing voice will be caught on the microphone and empty the church in an instance.
But over the decades I have heard other voices. Voices that say that everyone can sing and it’s a matter of confidence and technique. So two and a half years into my curacy, after dodging leading choral evensong and obsessively checking the on/off switch on the mic I have decided that I can sing, I just need to learn how. So tomorrow I am having my first singing lesson.
Finding a voice was an important phrase for me in my ordination story. Working in PR I felt I was giving my voice away to more powerful people in statements and press releases. I lost confidence in owning my opinions and truths and learning to preach has been a part of finding my own voice again – this blog has probably also been part of that.
I thought maybe that was enough – if I could preach and teach, surely it does not matter that I could not sing. But recently I was asked when I last tried to do something that scared me, when I last risked failure and as I realised I had been playing it quite safe the challenge of learning to sing started to take root.
Churches in my tradition hold a beautiful service on the evening before Easter, the Easter Vigil. The service starts in darkness, then the Easter candle is lit from a bonfire outside church and carried into the building. It is the job of the deacon to announce the resurrection of Christ – singing the words ‘The light of Christ’. Following this announcement the deacon leads the rejoicing of the church in a (long) song of praise called the Exsultet.
Last year I spoke the words, the year before the priest sang them for me. This year I plan to sing them. I hope I will manage all of it but I will have a trusty singing friend on standby just in case. This year the Easter vigil falls on my birthday, March 31st. After 40 years of saying ‘I can’t’ I thought the biggest gift I could give myself was saying ‘I can’ or at least ‘I will try.’ So tomorrow I am having my first singing lesson, I have got five months to find my voice – good job I trust in a God of miracles, a God of resurrection that can bring a hesitant and timid voice back to fullness of life.