Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care

31 Jan

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things – our vocabulary (go back in time and try telling your past self that you’re not sure whether to take a PCR or an LFT because you may have caught Omicron from an anti-masker even though you’re double-vaxxed), our workplace habits (hello, Zoom), our travel and our priorities. One of the very minor things it has changed is my mind about songs with actions.

I used to think songs with actions were extremely cringe and not an acceptable activity for a grown adult to take part in. And now – I still think songs with actions are pretty cringe, and not ideal for grown adults, but I have kind of made my peace with them. Whereas previously I would have either abstained altogether, or done a watered-down version out of peer pressure or pulpit pressure, now I do them properly, and so far it has not killed me. In fact, it makes them more bearable and you probably look less of an idiot than if you do it in a half-arsed fashion.

(Perhaps I should explain at this point, for people who are not familiar, that by ‘songs with actions’ I mean Christian songs that have prescribed movements, usually of the hands and arms, which usually bear some sort of relation to the lyrics. You can see an example below. It’s not the same as sign-language singing, which is a lot more complex and rather beautiful – here’s someone singing Fight Song in Pidgin Signed English).

What changed my mind about them was that period of the pandemic when we were allowed to go to church but not allowed to sing. There was a music group and the person leading worship could sing, but everyone else had to just stand there, not singing (though perhaps defiantly humming), and feeling weird. Except on the songs with actions. Then, you could actually participate again – and it felt good, because it felt closer to normal. I finally saw the point of them. (For adults. Kids don’t need a reason to wave their arms around like ninnies, they just like that kind of thing.) The point is participation.

Funnily enough, just after I had decided that I would blog about this (after a song with actions at church) , the title of the sermon turned out to be “Worship is … Participation”. So that means I’m right 😆

And now, a couple of videos. The first is one where I quite like the actions, in themselves. And also, the wee girl in this – so cute! (There are a lot of people in this video, so for the best version of the actions I would recommend watching the young girl in blue, although boy in red is pretty committed, too.)

The other video has no actions. What?! Well, it’s a song I learnt at uni, which had some fairly cool actions but 1) I couldn’t find any videos with people doing the actions in a sufficiently cool manner, and 2) this version is just lovely! Enjoy. And if you know the actions, feel free to join in.


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