Ruthie Rosauer has been leading singing meditation groups since 2004, after finding inspiration in the Taize singing at Findhorn Community in Scotland. She also sings with music therapy groups and directs a Threshold Singing choir, which performs for the terminally ill. Liz Hill is co-author of several works of fiction for young adults. After many years of not singing, she reclaimed her voice in a singing meditation group led by Rosauer. They introduce this fascinating and inspirational paperback on the spiritual practice of singing meditation with a quotation from St. Augustine: "A song is a thing of joy; more profoundly, it is a thing of love."
Rosauer and Hill are convinced that anyone can sing and too often we allow a small group of professional musicians to perform for us rather than doing it ourselves. They also believe that people singing together create soulful bonds with one another and open the doors of their hearts. They see this spiritual practice as a two-fold movement: "singing out to the divine mystery and sitting silently to listen for a response."
Singing meditation draws music from a variety of religious traditions. Rosauer and Hill explore the major ingredients of this spiritual practice: toning (vocalizing long, sustained sounds), singing (the most popular are chants, rounds, songs in harmony, and call-and-repeat songs), the words, and silent intervals of two to five minutes. At a typical singing meditation session, the group may sing a Jewish round followed by a Christian song in four-part harmony, and then move on to a Sufi song or a Buddhist chant. Rosauer and Hill explore this interfaith accent with a look at Taize prayer, kirtan call-and-response chants, and the Sufi Dances of Universal Peace. It is very pleasing to see the respect given silence in this spiritual practice.
The authors close with suggestions for starting a singing meditation group, leading a session, teaching the songs to people who may not read music, and a selection of songs for use. We can't wait to get started with our own singing meditations!
• More about singing meditation can be found at the website www.singingmeditation.com where you'll find the authors' calendar and blog.
• Let Joy Fill Your Heart is an audio CD of interfaith songs sung in community, by the Ephemerata Singers as they would be in an actual Singing Meditation session. On this page you can sample some of the songs and order the CD.
• Let Joy Fill Your Heart: Songs for Singing Meditation, Volume I is a songbook designed to help facilitators of Singing Meditation enrich their repertoire of songs that work well in the practice. More than 40 songs are included with music, lyrics, translations to English, and explanatory text. Order from this page.