Make a joyful noise (by Billy Coffey)

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If you were standing here with me in the bedroom, you would hear what I’m hearing. It’s plain as day, too, despite the fact that between us and the noise there is a door, a fan, and running water. And you would likely grin as I am grinning. I always do when my son sings in the shower.

I can’t recognize the tune—he likes to make up his own songs, which sometimes rhyme but most often don’t. I heard a reference to Santa a minute ago, and something about macaroni not being as good without the cheese. A deep thinker, my son.

He likes to sing in the shower. My daughter and wife, too. Me, I’ve always been more of a truck singer. Give me a good song and an open road, and I can really belt it out. And I’m a pretty good pew singer, too, though I’m conscious not to raise my voice so high that others take notice. In my head I sing like Harry Connick, Jr., but I’ve heard I sound more like Homer Simpson. I try to take that as a compliment, which takes some effort.

Still I sing, and often. And no matter who you are or how gruff you appear to be, the odds are good that you sing upon occasion, too.

But have you ever asked yourself why? On the surface, singing has no practical purpose. We use words because we must communicate, we laugh and cry to show emotion, we use our thoughts to order our world. So why sing rather than talk or laugh or think?

I’ve asked my son that question. His answer came by way of a furrowed brow that said, Don’t be stupid, Daddy.

Still, I wonder. We don’t need to sing in order to lead productive and fulfilling lives, so why do we?

I think this season tells us.

Christmas was made for singing. There is music everywhere. In stores and on street corners and on the radio (as I write this, Brad Paisley is singing “Away in a Manger”). They are songs of joy and peace and hope and goodwill toward men. Songs that when sung take your eyes off what you see and put them on what you cannot.

Like this, for instance:

Maybe that’s why we sing.

Because when we give melody to voice we communicate and emote and order all at once. Because the contents of the heart are so many that sometimes they cannot be dripped out, but poured forth. Because there is joy and longing and love and passion that words alone do not suffice.

We sing to reach our deeper selves and ascend to the highest heavens. It is thanksgiving and praise, a call for healing and inspiration. Thousands of years later, the words of Isaiah still ring true: “Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth.”

That’s what I think. And to me, it doesn’t matter if it’s Handel or “Jingle Bells.” It’s one of those precious things in life that always makes you feel better in the during and the after.

Just ask my son.

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18 Responses to “Make a joyful noise (by Billy Coffey)”

  1. Joyce December 13, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    My mom and I like to say having a great voice is one of the things we look forward to in heaven : )

    Something I really missed when my girls went off to college was the sound of them singing around the house. Both love to sing and my youngest especially would sit in front of her computer doing schoolwork while she sang…she has a lovely voice so it was nice. You notice the missing sound when they are not at home.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  2. Michelle DeRusha December 13, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    My neighbor just sent me that flash mob link (in fact, I just heard the phrase flash mob for the first time last weekend — I am often a half-step behind the trends), and I was surprisingly moved by it. Something about lyrics and music that shoots straight into my heart sometimes. My oldest son is in the Lincoln Boys Choir here in NE — every time they perform my eyes well — especially at this time of year. The other night they did Silent Night and I thought I’d would seep into a huge puddle right on the sidewalk where they were performing. My youngest, on the other hand, has a terrible voice — entirely off-key, all the time. But when he sings I can’t stop smiling for the joy of it.

    Lovely post, Billy.

  3. *~Michelle~* December 13, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    I love that video….

    I just blogged on how I “sang” to my dry bones…so this is timely.

    There is a long line of musicians in my husbands’ family so music/singing is the norm around here. Every room has a guitar or some musical instrument laying around and I usually have K-LOVE streaming from my computer(s) in our house at all times.

    I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6 is one of my favorite verses so I painted it on our music room’s wall.

    Great post……and Merry Christmas to both of you!

  4. Joanne Sher December 13, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    Love this. I am a huge singer (not super, but huge), and I agree.

  5. connie nylund December 13, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    For SO many, the music IS the message. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

  6. A Simple Country Girl December 13, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Oh, I also sound like Harry, and I am a girl! I reckon that’s why I, too, primarily stick to the solo truck singing.


  7. Michael December 13, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I sing all the time even though I sound like a monkey stuck in a meat-grinder.

    Ethan, my son sings all the time too.

  8. kelybreez December 13, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    I sing because it comes out of me! And because Jesus said if I don’t, the rocks are gonna cry out. That would freak out a bunch of people…

    …So really, if ya think about it, by singing I’m saving the world.

  9. Bonnie Gray | FaithBarista December 13, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Singing is like running. We’re born with a natural love for it and it doesn’t matter where or when we do it. As kids, we sing and run while laughing. Oh, yes, laughing is a third joy we’re born with too!

  10. jasonS December 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Music is so powerful. I’ve had the same thoughts though, it seems pretty ridiculous on the surface. Your conclusion is a great one. God gave us singing so we could sing about His great gifts.

    Thanks Billy.

  11. Helen December 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    That video was beautiful. I think music touches my heart in a way that words alone can’t. I sometimes cry during Church when we sing certain hymns.

  12. Sharkbait December 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    I am a FISH of many talents.

    Singing is not one of them.

    But I still sing, because HE gave me a song, and I have to get it out.

  13. Hazel Moon December 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    This was a great Post as always!! I named my Blog “A Joyful Noise,” because whether we are in tune or not in tune; our noisey praise in song (or words)is music to the ears of the Lord!

  14. Jake December 13, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    I like the idea of singing. The practice left me a long time ago, if it was ever there at all. I don’t sing in the shower because other people hear it, but I’m with you on singing while driving.

    Songs really do communicate something that our words alone can’t.

  15. Heather Sunseri December 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Love it!!! I loved all of the children’s reactions in that video. They’ll never forget that.

  16. katdish December 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    I have a unique view of the congregation while we’re singing. I face them. To see someone worship with their attention fully given to God, in the sacrificial act of worship is something I never tire of. Especially the kids.

  17. Karin December 14, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    I would have stood up to sing along whether I was a member of the choir or not!! This one is really making the rounds this season – loved it!


  1. Light Friday Hit List: 12/17/10 - December 17, 2010

    […] Make a joyful noise by Billy Coffey ( There’s a reason for all that crazy singing. Billy gives us plenty to chew on as always. Great stuff. […]

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