To Praise is to Think Twice – Music and Charismatic Praise at the Service of the Church!

By Justin Stroh

In all prayer we are called to be open.   This openness comes to us from the beginning of our life. From the generous outpouring of grace at our baptism we receive all that is needed to experience and proclaim the love of Jesus Christ in body and soul. I believe this is fully expressed in expressive liturgical worship.

Unfortunately, the experience of expressive praise can be discouraged due to social norms, lack of self-esteem and unfaithfulness. Also, in our journey of life we build up resentments toward God, self and others. Resentment, especially toward the Body of Christ, is one of the greatest obstructions to our being capable of the full expression of praise. It is also a serious inhibitor to knowing, and therefore, spreading the Joy of the Gospel.

As a musician and director of mission and discipleship in parish life I have tasted and seen how music and expressive praise work together to unlock our full desire for God and our experience of his infinite desire for us.

Here I would like to emphasize these points:

  • Music is spiritual
  • Music is physical
  • Musical praise repels evil
  • Expressive praise is faithful and testifies to the love we have in Christ

When I was in high school I recall our choir teacher instructing us how to think pitches. She would play a note on the piano and ask us not to “hum” the pitch, but think it. This way when we began singing the piece of music we would start on pitch. Once our choir became disciplined enough, we started every piece of music on pitch and with great energy!

Some years later I found myself meditating on the words of the Holy Mass. In the midst of the Sacred Liturgy we hear the priest pray, “And so, with all the Angels and Saints, we praise you, as without end we acclaim: Holy, Holy …” I wondered how the angels would be singing in heaven? It seemed to me that if angels were to sing they’d need a body, yet they have none! I had learned that angels do not have a human nature and that their angelic nature is pure spirit with the same powers we have in our soul: Intellect, Memory and Will.

So, how would their singing take place? My choir teacher taught us to think pitches, and since angels think, they must be able to think pitches too! They must use their memory and intellect like the great composers of history who wrote entire pieces of music, yet they were deaf. They thought the pitch!

We join the angels when we PRAISE! We open up and praise the Blessed Trinity with our entire being and so do the angels! In this way we repel evil. The angels take their cue from the Blessed Mother of Jesus and our mother.   She “Proclaims the greatness of God!” (She sang pitches to those lyrics as she approached the house of her cousin, who then experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit!)

Praise is simple and powerful just like God. We are called to raise our voices in song and combine the powers of our soul and body in manifesting the glory of God in our humanity! This truly repels confusion, dissension, fear and repression of the proclamation of the Good News!

Lord, open our lips and we shall proclaim your praise!   Music combined with a deep openness to the person of the Holy Spirit proclaims the Good News and regenerates the Church by grace.   When we celebrate the Sacred Liturgy in a community that offers a true sacrifice of praise in their singing, hearts are melted and are attracted to God through the Church.

In our will we choose to manifest the pitches we think and lift our voices manifesting the old axiom, “To sing is to pray twice (or well).” In order for this to happen, we need to think twice, to double our effort, make an act of faith, TO INTENTIONALLY PRAISE!   This requires us to engage the will and I believe it is why charismatic praise can be greatly enriched by music that expresses our DESIRE for God.

This experience is for us to enjoy, it is a gift at the service of the Church for the Glory of God and the salvation of souls!

Justin Stroh is available and desires to teach groups how to open up to healing through praise and music. He can be contacted by email at