I know you don’t read this column expecting any comments or information about theology. After all, I have the same background in theology that most of you do: None.
Nevertheless, even those of us without training have questions now and then. So, when a question arises that the theologians haven’t answered (and maybe even haven’t considered), we ponder ourselves and speculate.
Some time ago I pondered and answered this question: Did Jesus have a sense of humor?
I decided that he did and gave a fascinating and well-reasoned answer on page 272 of the book nobody read: "The Last Word." You would enjoy it. If you don’t have a copy let me know and I’ll send you one ($15 plus $3 shipping -- funds to go to a coronavirus nonprofit).
So, here’s the theological question this time: Did Jesus sing? As far as I know, the scriptures never mention Jesus singing, or even whistling. However, the Psalms encourage singing happy songs, songs of joy and praise, dancing and making music with string instruments, harps, lyres, drums, symbols and trumpets. Accordions and bagpipes are not specifically mentioned, but they are instruments of happy music and songs of joy, so progressive Bible scholars would certainly endorse them because it is clear that the scriptures encourage music.
Let’s take the analysis a step further. The Creator has created some historically great singing voices. I’ll name just one. On Easter Sunday, the blind Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli sang a brilliant solo concert on invitation from the deserted Duomo Cathedral in Milan, Italy. The concert was a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the world in response to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 2.8 million saw and heard the concert. All would agree that Bocelli has a great gift – his voice. What a talent a singing voice is.
But you don’t need a great voice to sing love songs, happy songs or even songs of grief. Many of us love to sing – either under our breath, in Karaoke or in a choir. Singing is a pleasure even for those with poor voices.
Why would Jesus be denied this almost universal gift? I’m sure that even in the beginning, Adam and Eve sang in the Garden of Eden.
As a young man, Jesus learned carpentry working with Joseph. Carpenters love to sing and whistle while they work. I worked one entire summer with an exceptional carpenter named Emil. He was a careful, methodical worker. You know: measure twice, cut once. Emil sang and whistled one song the entire summer: "A Fool Such As I" (“Pardon me, if I'm sentimental When we say goodbye"). It’s a brokenhearted love song by Hank Snow.
It got to be a long summer, but it gave Emil pleasure and who was I to complain? Hardworking Jesus would have enjoyed the same simple pleasure – with a different song.
I picture Jesus as a happy, optimistic person with the gifts of a happy, optimistic man, including a sense of humor. I picture him as whistling happy tunes when he was alone and signing out loud (with an average singing voice) when he was with others. I can imagine hi walking along the road to Bethlehem whistling “On The Road Again” and actually singing the song. But his voice would probably not have been as nasal as Willie Nelson’s.
It would be a stretch to imagine him singing “Old Man River” to the River Jordan, but I can hear him sounding like Louis Armstrong signing “What A Wonderful World.” Oh yeah.
When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus cried and I’ll bet he sang a sad song like “Danny Boy.”
And I expect he sang “How Great Thou Art” on Father’s Day.
And finally, after Easter, walking north on the road out of Jerusalem to Lake Galilee to his favorite fishing hole, whistling “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
I’d welcome your theological opinions on this subject.