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Introducing “Worth a Look/Worth a Listen” -- with "The Singing Thing" by John Bell



As I’m working on sermons, I do more reading and gathering of thoughts and stories than I could ever fit into 20 minutes (more or less). I thought I’d use the “Pastor’s Blog” part of our First Presbyterian San Anselmo website to offer some of that overflow material – to say a little bit more about what was mentioned in the sermon, or to point to interesting books, articles, podcasts, etc., that didn’t make it into the sermon, but that are worth a look or listen nonetheless. Here’s a first try:


This past Sunday, I mentioned John Bell’s brilliant (and brief) book The Singing Thing, in which he explores the question: Why do we sing? I mentioned a couple of reasons that John Bell offers up. Here’s his full list:


Why do we sing?

1. Because we can

2. To create identity

3. To express emotion

4. To express words

5. To revisit the past

6. To tell stories

7. To shape the future

8. To enable work

9. To exercise our creativity

10. To give of ourselves


In the book, Bell elaborates on each of these with characteristic wit and conviction. For further reading, he’s also written a sequel, Singing Thing Too: Enabling Congregations to Sing, in which he offers practical thoughts for enabling, teaching, and encouraging congregations to sing to our full potential.

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