Do Quakers sing in worship? These Quakers do! Laura Dungan and Aaron Fowler talk music, Spirit, and a sound so low the human ear can’t perceive it.
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- Is there music in your Meeting’s worship service? Do you find singing with others to be spiritually enlivening?
- Aaron describes a bass sound so low that the human ear can’t perceive it, yet it is still perceptibly present. He relates this to the experience of feeling the Spirit as a Friend is giving ministry. Does this resonate for you? What are the similarities (and differences) between those two things?
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?
How can I keep from singing?
Let Your Heart Sing
I’m Laura Dungan. Wichita, Kansas, a member of University Friends Meeting/Church, depending on who you’re talking to and where you’re at.
I’m Aaron Fowler. Wichita, Kansas, Heartland Friends Meeting in Wichita.
Spirit as Vibration
When I do a science of sound project with elementary age kids and we have a big bass speaker and we talk about 2 Hz, we’re playing 2 Hz and we say, “Can you hear it?” They all lean forward and say, “We can’t hear it!” but they’re watching the bass speaker and this bass speaker is vibrating and its moving and you can’t hear the sound, but you know that there’s an energy and something moving.
You can’t identify it, you can’t touch it and feel but its there, you just know. It’s kind of like an earthquake. You don’t hear it but you can feel it and you know that there’s something very powerful that’s present. That happens in worship. Worship in silence where someone stands up and shares a message out of the silence, it’s like, “whoa, OK. Something’s rocking here.”
Friends and Music
We were raised in the United Methodist Church and I was raised in a very musical family. Aaron had a lot of music coming from his grandmother and both of his parents sang in the church choir. So anyway, we grew up with that kind of environment, and then we came to Quakers in college. When I read George Fox’s Journal, it was all about the power of the Spirit and I had already experienced the power of the Spirit through music.
I never… in Kansas… I don’t know if it’s the brand of Quakers down there that tend to be a little more evangelical, but you know, you’ve got your hymns and you’ve got your music going on. I never had any bar about that at all. It wasn’t until I came hanging out with Eastern Quakers that I was like “Ohhh” I realized that there’s something that people are working on here, with music and being a Quaker. For me, it wasn’t ever divided.
I think that music division across the different Quaker roots, Quaker branches… from the Evangelical side, music always was there. And when we go to the gathering and when we go to unprogrammed Meetings, there is such a deep hungering to sing together… and I think it goes back to that whole, “What’s happening with the vibrations? What’s moving that we don’t know?” It rises up within us.
And so, hey! Let your heart sing! Let your heart sing. It’s OK. You won’t get in trouble. I don’t think anybody will kick you out of Meeting now. Maybe.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing.
It sounds an echo in my soul, how can I keep from singing?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.