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Caroling, Caroling!

Each morning at Ambleside Schools, faculty and students assemble together in a common space prior to going into classrooms. The community lifts their voices to sing the joyous hymns and pray a solemn prayer of submission to God, our Father. December is an especially favorite time as the carols of old are sung:


Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King, let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing.


O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.


It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold: “Peace on the earth, good will to men from heaven’s all-gracious King.”


Neuroscientists have identified congregational singing as evoking shared “neural activation among listeners in key emotional centers of the brain such as the amygdala, insula and caudate nucleus.”


These experiences create a surge of endorphins and a release of xytocin, resulting in a heightened sense of “fellow feeling,” a deepening of “social bonds,” a loss of self-protective “boundaries,” and an increased sense of “feeling felt by another” — which is to say, an increased sense of empathy.


In terms of the scientific theory of “Hebb’s axiom” neurons that fire together wire together, and a people who sing together experience a wiring together of their neural networks. They become tethered to one another in neurological and physiological ways, not just in affective or relational ways.1


Corporate singing is important for every person. We come together with a shared faith in a shared melody. Make time this Christmas season to carol together with family and friends in the car, at home, at church, and in your neighborhood. May the sounds of Christmas echo the minds and hearts of your family as we live out these days before Christmas.

1 Taylor, W. David O. (2022, August 29). Hymns and Neurons: How Worship Rewires Our Brains and Bonds Us Together. Christianity Today.