What Will You Leave Behind?

November 08, 2023
close-up of a tan suitcase, opened to show silk interior

“Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them.” —Exodus 15:20–21a

I don’t know what the Holy Family brought with them when they were fleeing Herod. I don’t know what my ancestors packed when they were fleeing enslavement. But we do know that when the Hebrew people were fleeing Egypt, Miriam, along with other women, took tambourines. I wonder how others might have reacted to that choice.

Some might have said it was impractical: “Many other things, like food and first aid supplies, need to take priority.”

Some might have said it was redundant: “We have everything we need to praise God among us right now. Instruments are a luxury, not a necessity.”

Some might have quietly confessed that it felt unnecessary: “Our laments do not need accompaniment. There will be time for singing and dancing with shofars, horns, and strings once we have reached the Promised Land.”

And others, like the women themselves, might have argued: “It is practical to pack tools of praise, because art is essential to our survival, especially when we are weary, tired, and homesick in the wilderness.”

However the conversations played out, the women won, because they joined Miriam in the song, and all these years later, we are still invited to join in with them.

Although we may not know what all of our ancestors packed and what they left behind on those long and traumatic journeys, it is clear that tools of praise, such as art and music, were used, because we are still singing the songs of hope, liberation, and freedom that our ancestors taught us. The women, in their wise packing, affirmed the power of faithful song to nurture and sustain and provide a faithful antidote to the fear and uncertainty that they were facing as a people in exodus.

With Then Let Us Sing!, we are embracing the wisdom of these wise women and our ancestors in our work of supporting congregational song. We believe that faithful congregational singing will help us, as a church, journey through these wilderness times we currently inhabit, while leaving a legacy of faithful song for future generations. In this wilderness, may we have the wisdom to lead like Miriam.



Alydia Smith, Program Coordinator, Worship, Music, and Spirituality