I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing

Well, I did it. On Saturday night, I sang a solo in public for the very first time. This caught me up to most of the world, so no grand accomplishment, but it sure was for me. Our church hosted a low- and at times off-key talent show to raise money for those of us traveling to Kenya this summer and somewhere between the expansive definition of “talent” and guilt for not doing much for the trip so far I decided that this was a fine time to break my forty-five year silence. I chose “Forever and Ever Amen” by Randy Travis, partly because I will love my wife forever and ever (amen) and partly because I have a bass voice and thought this song choice reduced the risk of total humiliation. My kind friend, Shelby, graciously agreed to accompany on guitar, and had she not, I totally would have chickened out.

My problem began in church at age six. I was sitting by my mother and belting out the chorus of a favorite song when a couple in the pew in front of us turned and gave me a dirty look as if to say, “Let us put this nicely—you are annoying the hell out of us, so shut up.” Setting aside the fact that annoying the hell out of someone is arguably a net spiritual benefit to the annoyed, I shut up. I shut up for a decade.

Fast forward to sophomore year of high school. While sitting in “chapel” at my small, Christian high school, I accidentally broke my sincere vow never to let anyone hear me sing and my friend, John Mark, said, “You have a good voice: Why don’t you sing more?” That one comment changed my world. Okay, I didn’t start a band or anything, but that one comment returned my voice, just like a single criticism took it away, and I started singing again, allowing my voice to blend into the music of the world.

It took another thirty years (I may be a slow learner), but two days ago, John Mark’s encouragement even allowed me to offer the world a song on my own.

You should never underestimate the power of a single act of criticism or encouragement.

8 responses to “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing

  1. Sandy Ross Smith

    I do hope your wife videotaped that. Why deny the rest of us the chance to compliment you?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is powerful. Powerfully sad on the one hand and powerfully encouraging and challenging on the other. May our words lift each other up, whether in song or writing or speaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad we pulled you out of Watson’s (what was it?) Global Studies for two years in Chorus! “As long as old men sit and talk about the weather…”
    Keep singing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha! Definitely Global Studies. In chorus, I don’t think I ever sang the first note of a song. When Bro. Howard signaled, I opened my mouth and acted like I was singing the first note but was too terrified to do anything but blend in after everyone else. 🙂 Sad, I know, but I’m a work in progress. Thanks, Joe!!!


  5. I bet you did a good job. I remember your days in CRA Chorus.

    Liked by 1 person

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