Saloma Miller Furlong's Blog
Amish Church Singing
Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days. ~Doug Larson
On a late Sunday morning, around the time many Amish church services have progressed to the last "song", I am listening to Amish church singing or chanting, which sounds much like a Gregorian chant. The German songs from the book called the "Ausbund" were written by our ancestors back in the old country, often while they were imprisoned for their religious beliefs.
Listening to these Amish chants reminds me of what it was like to sit in an Amish church service. I found the singing to be the best part of the services. I felt they connected us to our ancestors. Because the tunes are slow, unaccompanied by instruments, and joined by nearly everyone, the chorus of varied voices has depth to it — the kind that allows for deep thoughts, even while joining in with the singing. It gave me the feeling that the culture was going to be like this for many generations, because change was so slow, it was nearly imperceptible. I used to feel connected to other Amish everywhere during the second song called the Loblied (Praise Song), because I knew that in every other Amish church service in our time zone, they were singing the same song. I used to wonder what would be like to hear them altogether, as I imagined it would be heard in heaven.
I will never forget, how on a rainy, late October day in 2005, Amish men sang by my mother's graveside, as the pallbearers lowered her body into her grave, and then filled the grave, one shovelful at a time. It felt as though the pallbearers were tucking her body into her final resting place as the singers were sending her soul off on her journey.
In the wake of the news last week of the struggle an Amish community in Missouri is going through with sexual abuse, I need to remind myself of the things I miss about Amish life. There was definitely the dark, secretive side that one tried not to dwell on, especially if there was no way to change it, but there were also the parts of the culture that had that community atmosphere. Hearing the church singing evokes the nostalgia for the feeling I used to have in an Amish church service — a connection to the past, present, and future.
I will have much more to write about the abuses I know exist among the Amish, but on a Sunday morning of reflection, I pause to remember a few of the good parts of my childhood and young adulthood.