Jonathan Wright

It’s one of the greatest mysteries of my otherwise predictable daily and weekly life.

And it gets to me in a very personal way. I just can’t figure it out no matter how hard I try, and I seriously doubt I ever will. Apparently it’s one of those many perplexities I’ll simply have to live with the rest of my life.

Let me ease you into it. During any given week I find myself leading singing in one of two primary venues. First at school—I use catchy songs, with CD accompaniment, to teach Spanish in both middle school and high school classes in Covington.

These are not just your regular run-of-the-mill songs. They’re captivating, easy to learn, and have a rhythm that makes it hard to stay seated. In fact, some of the younger kids sometimes find that nearly impossible at times. I like that.

So what’s the problem, the mystery?

It’s the nagging, puzzling fact that some kids just won’t sing. They just won’t sing.

I try coaxing them with funny gestures, verbal encouragement, and anything else I can do to persuade them to open up their mouths and join in.

But still they sit there with mouths closed while the rest of the class is making beautiful music with their voices. Maybe I ought to try standing on my head.

You would think that the alluring music would be so irresistible that they would finally just give in and at least make an effort. Or if nothing else, good old-fashioned peer pressure should have some effect.

But they’re immune to all that. While some do finally give in and start singing, much to my delight, there are always those who hold out to the bitter end, never opening their mouths to sing the first syllable.

I frequently tell my classes, with these very non-singing students in mind, “Even if you think you can’t sing, you can at least say the words.” Maybe one of these days it will finally sink in with this handful of kids.

The other venue, which is worlds more perplexing, is church. I lead the congregational singing in our church’s two Sunday worship services, using a variety of both contemporary and traditional songs. In our morning services we project the words on the screen, making it as easy as possible, encouraging everyone to be an active participant in the service by singing praises to our incredible Lord.

Yet some invariably stand politely and simply look around or straight ahead with mouths closed, not even uttering the first word, some not even bothering to look at the words.

Whereas the failure to sing at school is frustrating enough, it fairly blows my mind when I try to understand why someone would come to a worship service and not even attempt to utter these few lofty words of praise to the God of Creation who went to infinite lengths to purchase our salvation through the sacrifice of His own beloved Son.


Again, even if you think you can’t sing, you can at least say the words.

So much for my perplexity. While it may persist to the end of my life, at least I’ve released some frustration by writing it out. Thanks for allowing me to vent. I feel better.

Now—sing! Please don’t make me have to stand on my head.


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