Wales

Coronavirus: Singing church members 'miss companionship'

Woman in a church on her own Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The minister of a Welsh church in London said it was "very strange" not being able to sing

Churches and chapels in Wales can gradually start to re-open from Monday - but members say they will miss the companionship of singing together.

Scientific evidence suggests singing increases the spread of respiratory droplets, thus increasing the risk of spreading coronavirus among a crowd.

Churches in England opened for the first time since lockdown last Sunday, but singing was not allowed.

The minister of a Welsh church in London said it was "very strange".

"It was a great experience to be back on Sunday," said the Reverend Aneirin Glyn, of the Welsh Church of St Benet, in the City of London.

"But we didn't get to sing or offer after-service refreshments.

"We're very fond of singing as Welsh people, and it was very strange not to be able to sing as part of our worship."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The Welsh Church of St Benet in London opened its doors to worshippers last Sunday

From 13 July, faith leaders will be able to gradually resume services, once they feel ready to do so safely, and services can be held outside.

The Church-in-Wales has issued guidance saying a cautious approach to re-opening was "essential."

Rev Glyn said some members had recorded hymns to play during the service, but "we could not sing with the recordings".

Another who is missing the singing is Delyth Morgans Phillips, author of Companion to Caneuon Ffydd, a reference book on popular hymns.

"I understand, of course, that we must be careful but not singing hymns is going to be very strange," she said.

'Losing companionship'

Ms Phillips is also a conductor in Cymanfa Ganu (singing festivals), and a member of the Corisma choir in Cwm-Ann, near Lampeter, and the Ceredigion National Eisteddfod Choir.

"When the choir doesn't meet, one loses the companionship," she added.

"We are a very social bunch in Corisma and we meet every fortnight to sing but also to laugh and put the world to rights."

Image copyright Delyth Morgans Phillips
Image caption Delyth Morgans Phillips says choir members lose out on companionship from being unable to sing together

Ms Phillips said the National Eisteddfod Choir had been meeting on Zoom to rehearse, but that it was a "completely different experience".

The social element of worshipping and singing is a big draw for most church members in Wales, including Evie Jones, from Lannerch-y-medd, Anglesey.

"I miss the choir terribly," said Mr Jones, who is a member of the Foel Male voice choir.

Image copyright Undeb yr Annibynwyr
Image caption Evie Jones said he often wonders "if we will be allowed to sing again"

Mr Jones said he doubts whether choirs would have enough time to practice for the Eisteddfod next year, if it is able to go ahead at all.

"It's a rather bleak summer this year - I've sung all my life," he added.

"I often wonder if we will be allowed to sing again."

There was no other option but to postpone this year's Cerdd Dant Festival, said organiser John Jones.

John Jones is also the conductor of Cor Meibion y Brythoniaid, a choir which usually meets weekly in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd.

"It's the loss of companionship and banter more than anything else - I just hope that a vaccine comes soon," he said.

"But, like all the choir members, I miss the singing as well as the socialising - singing is good for the soul, but must be safe as well."

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