Hildegard von Bingen took [singing] so seriously as a gift God made to humanity that in one of her plays, while the soul and all the Virtues sing, the devil alone has a speaking part. The gift of song has been denied him.
-Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk, p.331
This immediately reminded me of George MacDonald’s portrayal of the goblin race in The Princess and Curdie and other stories. He mentions on several occasions how much the the goblins hated singing and always adds that “probably” they hate it so much because they cannot sing themselves.
Contrast this with what Christian rock music pioneer Larry Norman said – “Why does the devil get all the good music?”. It seems today that we often assume the devil sings pretty darn well. But I think it’s still people that are singing, however righteous or twisted their hearts may be. Demonology is dicey business, but my money is still on the devil being completely tone deaf.
Aquinas taught us that even evil has good in it. For example, it was still good and marvelous how the blood flowed through Hitler’s veins even as he plotted evil. The workings of the human mind are still “good” even as they are bent toward destruction. So the devil seems to be fairly successful at recruiting musicians to his devices, but the saints still drive him actually crazy with their own singing. You may recall that this same sort of singing is what drove Grendel out of his distant dark cave as well. He wanted to shut them up. Like as to his master, the sound of proper praise or even just celebration was intolerable.
Let me posit that as we all gather together as Christians, be it in small families or large groups, we should always be singing. Let us not just listen, but also open our mouths and breath out. Can’t do it well? Who cares – do it anyway. Learn to hack it. It’s worth it. And if you sing well, don’t allow your voice to be hijacked.