MARY REICAHRD, HOST: Today is Monday, February 17th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Church is one of the few places left in our culture where people regularly sing together. And WORLD Radio’s Les Sillars says that’s why it’s easy to overlook the astonishing thing that happens when we do.
SINGING: When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast …
LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: This is congregational singing at a recent Sunday service at my church. It’s a big church, but I was near the front so you can’t hear many people. But if you listen carefully you can hear a male voice that is definitely not worship leader quality. That’s me.
SINGING: I could never keep my hold, through life’s fearful path / For my love is often cold / He must hold me fast …
I never learned to play an instrument or took voice lessons. I just like to sing.
That’s probably why I had never heard of “overtones” until recently. You see, each string of a piano or tube of a trumpet resonates at a particular frequency called the “fundamental.” And each string or tube also resonates at the same time at a series of frequencies called the overtones.
The varying volumes of the different overtones give each instrument its particular sound. It’s how we tell a guitar from a piano from a trumpet. It’s also how we tell the difference between human voices. And that is why some voices and instruments just seem to go together. Their overtones combine and even amplify each other in pleasing ways.
Rose Lauck is one of our staffers at Fellowship Bible Church. Here she is in a video that explains all this, and a little bit more.
LAUCK: You see, when our hearts are resonating at the same frequency as God and His Word, we emit overtones of grace that glorify Him in ways that we cannot fully understand, overtones that allow each individual to reflect God’s glory.
In recent years some evangelicals, especially younger ones, have turned to liturgical denominations. Many are looking for worship that involves the whole person: body, soul, and spirit. They want to smell the incense. They want to kneel when they pray and genuflect at the Eucharist.
Our church doesn’t do that, and that’s OK with me. Partly that’s my personality. You know when you’re about to sing sitting down, all nice and comfortable, and then that guy in the front row pops up and everybody has to stand? I’m not that guy. I don’t even like to clap in church.
But ever since I heard about overtones, I don’t worry that I’m missing something in worship. My voice is my instrument. When I sing, I can feel my voice in my ears and how it blends with the voices of my brothers and sisters around me. Together, we become something more than the sum of our voices.
SINGING: He will hold me fast / He will hold me fast / For my Savior loves me so / He will hold me fast
For WORLD Radio, I’m Les Sillars.