Singing for your life

Don Saliers made a compelling argument for singing as a way to better health at the Emeritus College's 2014 Sheth Distinguished Lecture in April. The William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship, emeritus, Saliers reported on research in Germany that measured an increase of immunoglobulin A levels in the blood of choristers after an hour-long rehearsal of Mozart's Requiem. He shared the documented depression of monks in France after the singing of daily prayers was streamlined in response to Vatican II. Once the songs were restored, the monks regained energy and vigor. In his own research with congregations in the United States, Saliers has documented the power of songs not only to tap into deep associative memories but also comfort and heal. For example, one congregant's Parkinson disease symptoms subside when he sings hymns in church. "Singing creates and sustains communities of hope and health and well-being," says Saliers. "Whenever a song is raised, we strike a chord of what it means to be human." Learn more about the Sheth Lecture.