Singing, the Church and COVID-19: A Caution for Moving Forward in our current Pandemic

I’m a music director at a mid-sized Baptist church in Missouri. We have been fortunate to have a low incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in our county so far. Our statewide Safe-At-Home order is set to expire in less than a week. With things getting ready to open back up, the church leadership and I are carefully considering what our corporate gatherings should look like, and how we should care for our people emotionally, socially, and spiritually. It’s a tall order.

In my “day job,” I’m a vocologist and a voice teacher with a PhD in Vocal Pedagogy and Voice Science. I have done research on the voice, and continue to read voice research in my spare time. Yes, I am just that nerdy. But it’s also riveting. The voice is one of the most wonderful creations that God has bestowed upon us, and I am endlessly fascinated with it.

For a couple of weeks now there have been rumblings of concern among my colleagues in the voice research world and the church world about the safety of singing together during this unprecedented time. Lots of articles and opinions are flying around. The more I read, the more I came to realize that whether I encouraged my congregation to engage in public singing when we met together again would be the most important decision I have made in ministry so far. So, I’ve compiled all the reliable research I can find on it, and distilled it into a single document. It is my hope that this work can be of some help to my friends and colleagues as we all seek to lead our people well.

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