How to Pray: With Music

O come, let us sing to the Lord; 

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Psalm 95:1

God has been drawing people to himself through music for centuries. We see David bring peace to Saul whenever he plays the harp (1 Sam 16:23). Jesus sang traditional Passover hymns with his disciples at the Last Supper (Matt 26:30). And today we continue to speak to God through music at Mass, during personal prayer, and while we go about our day.

As many churches are currently restricting singing to the choir or eliminating it altogether to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the Mass, prayerful music is something you might be missing. Now, in this beautiful season of Advent, it’s an even better time to learn how to pray and meditate with music. So, how do you do that? Here are a few tips from our team! 

Choose your song 

On the app, we now have several kinds of music suitable for different kinds of prayer! You can find our new Music section with over 100 songs and 14 albums available  in the Meditate tab. From Catholic singer-songwriter Kat Hammock’s Christmas songs (exclusive to Hallow Music) to acoustic worship with Brother Isaiah, there is something for everyone. In prayer, we recommend starting with something you know or something that sounds interesting to you. 

Take a few deep breaths

If ever you are overwhelmed, you can let the words or notes of the music be your voice. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself for the length of the song to whatever it is God wants to show you. Depending on what you need at that moment, some words might stick out to you. Other times, the tune might carry you to a more peaceful place. Many of us are working at home these days, and music serves as a peaceful start, background, or break throughout the day. It helps you focus but isn’t distracting. 

Listen to the melody and/or text 

If you are struggling to find a way to speak with God, start with a song you know. It might be “Be Thou My Vision” or “The First Noel” this Christmas. Find somewhere comfortable to sit or peaceful to walk and tune into the music. Notice the rhythm and note the lyrics of the song. As you begin to submerge yourself in the music, see if any of the words speak to you in a particular way. Think of this as imitating the practice of lectio divina with your chosen song. 

Let the song lead you into a conversation with God

Music can help bring focus and calm to your day, even during other forms of prayer. For example, we recommend listening to the instrumental music on the app, such as Sean Beeson’s Give Me Jesus album (a Hallow Original) during adoration. As you sit with the Blessed Sacrament, virtually or in person, be drawn deeper into prayer through familiar melodies that help you to focus on the presence of Our Lord. We encourage you to turn to prayerful lyrics, such as those in the album Canticum Novum (2019) by CMI Chant, when you need to sing, cry, smile, or simply find peace. 

Sing along (or don’t)

Lastly, remember praying with music doesn’t have to be so serious. You might find some of our music better suited for listening before bed or during a quiet moment in your day; the album In Prayer (2017) by ambient artist Salt of the Sound is great for this. With other songs, don’t be afraid to sing or hum along! Singing along is also a great way to pray with kids

We hope Hallow Music brings you calm, peace, and joy!