If a blogger doesn’t blog, is she still alive? Yes, I’m still here, still homeschooling, and still doing fine arts although we’ve actually scattered our fine arts throughout the week instead of relegating them to Fridays. Actually, I’ve been mulling. And I’ve been busy. And I’ve been tired. But mostly, I’ve been mulling.
I’ve been primarily mulling over things that I heard at the Great Homeschooling Convention back in March. However, unlike other years, I haven’t come back with a bunch of new ideas and curriculum to implement in the last few months of our school year. I’ve actually only made one minor change, but this change has probably had as big an impact as anything we do in our homeschool.
In two different workshops, a classical Christian panel and a Sarah Mackenzie workshop, we sang the Doxology. And by “we” I mean all the attendees of the workshop. We sang without accompaniment, without song sheets or projected words. We simply sang. Here’s a refresher if you can’t place it:
Sarah was talking about starting their day with something more peaceful than yelling at people to come downstairs and get started, and someone (Christopher Perrin?) had suggested playing classical music to greet them rather than frazzled mom. She also mentioned starting their morning time with the Doxology, and then she had us all stand and sing it.
Both times I participated in this ritual at the convention, it was like being wrapped in a warm blanket. Not that it was a particularly stressful environment to begin with, but the peace that descended was palpable. I thought if that could happen in a room full of strangers, what would happen in our home? So for the last month, we’ve been beginning our þing with the Doxology. It takes about half a minute, but the impact is impressive. Even if I’ve had to tell Sprite to get out of bed fifty-nine times (the last time at drill sergeant levels) and have been yelling at the boys to stop fighting and have had a twenty-minute conversation about what on earth Satchmo, poor starving child, could possibly eat, peace descends and we experience a unity of purpose that’s been missing.
In addition to the truth and beauty of the Doxology itself, there is something powerful in the act of singing together. We also sing a hymn and folk song during our þing, and all of these experiences are knitting us together more closely and giving us a common treasury from which to draw.
Corporate singing has a multitude of physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. See here, here, and here. And here if you want to read the actual research. Seriously, it’s good for you! It reduces anxiety, releases endorphins, exercises your heart and lungs. It builds community and reduces and protects from depression and loneliness. It’s as good as yoga for practicing controlled breathing. If you’re a Christian, it’s also commanded. So there’s that.
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This month, we’re singing “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” a hymn written in the 12th century by Bernard of Clairvaux. I love being connected to church history as well as to my children as we sing. This a cappella version is gorgeous.
Our folk song is “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” In addition to being a catchy tune, we’ve had endless fun speculating who the heck Dinah is and what she has to do with working on the railroad. We’ll get around to looking it up eventually.
Now, grab some friends and sing a song!