The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Curtis Shelburne
Local columnist 

Faith: I love to sing for the joy of God

 

Last updated 8/2/2022 at 4:05pm



If you know me, you know that I like to sing. I’ll sing when nobody’s listening. I’ll sing when 12 people are listening. I’ll sing when 612 are listening. Give me half a chance, and I will sing.

I’ve sung all of my life. It was not unusual for our family to sing together at home. (I know. Too often, families today can hardly imagine ever being at home. And singing at home? “Are you kidding? Did you grow up on Mars?”)

We really did. Not the Mars part. The singing part.

I also sang at church. I sang at school. At various times, I sang with groups of, as I recall, 4, 25, 35, 100 or so. A quartet. A school ensemble group. A church singing group. A school choir. And so on.

I’ve done some recording -- four of my own albums and a couple or three with other folks.

I’ll sing in the shower, in the back yard, and on a desert island. I’ve never known singing to hurt anything, and it helps almost everything. You don’t have to be good at it for it to be good for you.

“God’s joy is too deep not to sing!” I’ve used that as a kind of motto on cards, stationery, etc., and I think it is deeply true.

I don’t sing as a modern “artiste” whose songs are a way of expressing disgust, despair, and decrying relentless pain in a world devoid of meaning. I don’t believe that this world or my life are devoid of meaning. “Victimhood” and singing, when combined, are off-key.

I don’t feel the need to scald my vocal cords with “explicit lyrics.” If I couldn’t do better than sing songs where I wallow in angst and nihilism and try to drag others in with me, I hope I’d just be mute, and thus do everyone a favor.

If I’m singing, it will be something I find beautiful, something I find filled with hope, something I find pointing to the Source of joy, whether it’s a hymn, a song just for fun, a sentimental old love song, or so many others.

I’ve sung for lots of different types of groups: churches, clubs, special programs, weddings, funerals, etc. Mostly I sing Gospel sorts of songs.

But a few years ago, much to my surprise, my song repertoire enlarged to include some of the great old “American Songbook” songs. You know, the “For Sentimental Reasons” sort of songs so beautifully written by folks like Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers (and many others) and sung so well by Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett (and so many others).

I love singing those old jazz tunes. They’ve lived for generations, and I want to do my part to help keep them alive.

So I was singing for a sweet group of about 20 folks at an assisted living home recently. This time around, I was singing mostly the “For Sentimental Reasons” songs. I’d driven about 150 miles, round trip, to sing for those folks. I’d not get a dollar a mile for the “honorarium,” though a couple of folks bought albums. But I felt like a rich man when I’d sung the final note.

Why? Because I got to see some smiles, watch some eyes light up. The joy God gives me in singing became the joy my hearers that day lovingly received.

Early in my concert, an elderly man and woman quietly got up from their chairs and began to dance. I loved that! Then, at the end of the concert, a sweet little lady came up to me and said, through tears, “Thank you for giving me my husband back for just a little while.” Better than a big check, I’d say. If I gave her a gift, she gave me a larger one.

Curtis Shelburne writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
 

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