Please… No More Singalongs!

If you visit any village pub in Ireland of a Saturday night you can join the locals as they sing their favored folk, traditional or drinking sings. A soloist will often lead the chorus and stir up the congregation in unrestrained harmony but, when it comes time to share the much anticipated lament or Caoineadh, the time honored telling of great hardship, loss, betrayel or brokenness, a respectful quietness will settle upon the flock… and towards the end of the telling there will not be a dry eye in the house.


And this is not so much to do with the sad tale itself, but rather the gift of the story teller… for the sweet angelic soprano bar maid or the french hornlike baritone farmer will draw the audience inside the story… and make them feel that the telling was just for them.  These balladeers carry in themselves a deep understanding of both the sacred shared moment and, their responsibility to lead their spiritual kinfolk across troubled waters.

They are not given the story telling duties just because they have a fine voice, or for any physical beauty, youth, wisdom or their standing in the community. They are called to this role  because they carry the gift. And, for reasons not quite known or understood, they have an anointing to move the hearts of young and old, rich or poor.

If you visit most any Church on Sunday morning, more often than not you can join in a fine sing along. Some of these event centers specialize in joyful sounds, others more traditional and on occasion there will be tears amongst the congregation members as the deeper meaning of a hymn or song hits home. But rarely, will a singer or musician carry an understanding or authority to reach into the hearts of the visitors and deposit a treasure so fine or tender as the song of the Irish bar maid.

In the Irish community (and many other tribal or non corporate communities around the world) the gift to move the hearts of men, woman and children (through music, song, fine art, theater) is considered a high honor. Those that give themselves to this calling are treasured while the youngsters that show inklings of the natural talent are encouraged to fan into flames these giftings and apprentice themselves to the musical ‘Gandalf’s’ or  experienced anointed one’s near or far.

In the modern world, the concept or word ‘Anointed’ has been belittled as if it belonged to another time… an ancient word no longer in use… or, if someone speaks of it today they are often labelled as so ‘last century’. But a simple meaning; to be anointed is to be enabled… or allowed… or given permission. It is most difficult to develop a natural gift when permission is denied… even if it goes unsaid.

If you are happy with plain old singalongs then far be it for me to be a stone in your  shoe… or a fly in your ointment. But I have no time for them. I also have no time for ever trite happily- resolved testimonies or predictable faith based movies, or hallmark designed artwork.  I would rather go without than suffer a life of mediocrity. But that’s me. I’m weird like that.

I do have a lot of time however for those with the natural gift to sing and play music or create and tell stories through their various art expression. My heart aches for them in fact. Sheep without a shepherd.

If you want to continue this discussion or would like to have some old geezer from last century visit your community to pour a drop or two of oil on your musicians, artists and communicators, then contact us at Planted by the Water. You can also leave a disagreeable comment… we like open discussions. It comes from hanging out in Irish bars.

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