Prayer doesn’t always have to be in silence. We can pray with music no matter the season — of your life or the liturgical year.
O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!Psalm 95:1
What is praying with music?
God has been drawing people to himself through music for centuries. We see David bring peace to Saul whenever he plays the harp (1 Samuel 16:23). Jesus sang traditional Passover hymns with his disciples at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30). The Psalms were written with the intention of them being sung. This prayer method has strong Biblical roots; there are countless Biblical instances of praying with music.
Today, we can continue the tradition of conversing with God through music at Mass, during personal prayer, and while we go about our day.
Why pray with music?
To sing is to pray twice.St. Augustine
Praying with music is different than praying with words, but both methods have the same purpose: to draw us closer to God. If your prayer routine needs a transformation or you’re simply looking to add something new to it, adding music might work for you!
You don’t necessarily need to sing along to pray with music. You might find beauty in the harmony, the tune, or the words of the song. Or, music might serve as a nice way to bring prayer into your everyday tasks, such as working, commuting, or doing chores.
When should I pray with music?
You can meditate with music any time of the liturgical year. You can pray with music while you drive, do laundry, or even as part of your morning or nightly prayer routine. You could pray with a song to begin or end your time in prayer or even dedicate an hour to listening intentionally to an entire album of prayerful music.
How to pray: with music
Below, we offer 5 steps to pray with music, no matter the season.
1. 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 Hymns (exclusive to Hallow Music) to acoustic worship with Brother Isaiah to Harpa Dei’s traditional chant, there is something for everyone. In prayer with music, we recommend starting with something you know or something that sounds interesting to you.
2. 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 song’s length 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 from home these days, and music serves as a peaceful start, background, or break throughout the day. It helps you focus but isn’t distracting.
3. Listen to the melody and/or read the 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.
4. Let the music 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 rest 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 find peace.
5. 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.
In Hallow, you can pray with a variety of music from Harpa Dei’s Chant Rosary to several albums by Brother Isaiah. There’s something for all music tastes in the app — from upbeat tunes to more peaceful, classical music.
We also have a Summer Praylist, featuring bright and peaceful songs, to help you relax in the light of the Son. We look forward to praying through music with you!
We hope Hallow Music brings you calm, peace, and joy.