Singing in tongues

Is there such a thing? Some people would say, sure: scat. And indeed, Ella Fitzgerald - just to take the readiest example - improvised into existence a whole new vocabulary of the singer’s soul with her scatting abilities, perhaps most famously in this marvelous, classic, dazzling performance of “How High the Moon” from her 1966 Stockholm recording (which may well be among the five greatest live sets of music ever recorded). But while many people have found religion in good jazz, I doubt anyone who’s ever heard glossolalia would mistake Ella’s scatting for singing in tongues.

Evidently the Cunning Linguist thinks she’s found a punk band that sings in tongues (hat tip, M). Maybe, but I don’t care enough about punk to go to the trouble of finding out. Instead, I put the question to you: does anyone know of a recorded gospel song that includes an attempt to sing - as opposed to simply speak - in tongues? Perhaps my Baptist upbringing shows here. We were at best sneering tourists of glossolalia (and anyway, wouldn’t glossolaliaists argue that you couldn’t score “the language of the spirit”?). But tourists get to ask the dumb questions, so I’ll blunder on. I’m not so much thinking of glossolalia monologues with the music playing in the background, but glossolalia that’s sung instead of spoken. McGruder’s fans? Anybody?

PS: I fully concede that whether or not anyone would want to hear such a song is a different question for another day. Right now, I’m just trying to find something else for us to talk about than divorce.

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  1. not a grammarian wrote:

    I always liked Mike Roe of the 77’s singing “Baa Baa” - I think the song was called “All fall down” or maybe that was the name of the album.
    Other examples would be Pat Boone and Mike Adkins, but you are talking like 30 years or so ago (thanks wackythinker - and I do know you, and I DON’T think you’re a jerk)

  2. Trent wrote:

    In the McGruders live version of the song “From Heaven’s Point Of View”, Phyllis McGruder does a little speaking in tongues in between verses, but she doesn’t SING in tongues.

    Great question.

  3. CVH wrote:

    Good question. From what I’ve read and understood from experience in pentecostal environments, I’m not sure tongues was/is given as ’song’. People speak in tongues as “the Spirit gives utterance” but historically it was usually as a means for people from different nationalities to be able to understand what was being said, or as an offering of praise or prayer to God; more of a personal ‘prayer language’ if you will.

    I’m sure God could enable people to sing in tongues but again, given its nature, I don’t know if it would be melodic or structured in the way a song form would be that we’d recognize.

    I’ll have to (cringe) watch TBN a little more closely this week and see what I can find.

  4. Revpaul wrote:

    Hmmm. Yeah, how do you rhyme? While writing, does the songwriter need an interpreter to understand his/her own lyrics? Does the quartet have to bring along a glossolatition to interpret for the audience? ;)

  5. st wrote:

    Doesn’t the pope and the catholic priests do this all on one monotone note?

  6. Rita Stacy wrote:

    Does anyone know Anne Mccrae’s email

  7. Ron F wrote:

    Hey can i bring up something of a different topic. Has anyone heard that on “Together” Album “Love is Like a River” The Greatest singer ever, Guy Penrod cracks. Couldnt they fix that with all of the technology they have now. It is very noticeable. Just wondering if any body else heard that.

  8. Elisabeth wrote:

    Ron, I wondered about that same thing! My brother noticed it first, I believe, but he was quick to point it out to me. I always listen for that part, even though it makes me wince. Wonder why they didn’t fix it? Have you noticed that his voice seems to be strained here lately?

  9. Inigo Montoya wrote:

    I think that’s Latin

    Rod F
    No offense, but that’s what “Open Thread” is all about.

  10. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    But this isn’t an open thread. That was the last thread.

  11. st wrote:

    Inigo - I know it’s latin; I was making a joke.

  12. Bari-Tone-Def wrote:

    I think that is #9’s point Mr. Mount.

  13. Ron F wrote:

    Elisabeth I have noticed he seems somewhat strained here lately. I remember the first time I heard his voice go out several years ago at NQC. And we all were shocked. I guess it just shows us he is Human. Do you think Marshall hall is pushing him that much?

  14. pk wrote:

    I always wondered why those people who were missionaries that claimed to speak in tongues needed an interpretor when they are on the missions field….

  15. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    My comment was more in reply to #6 and #7.

  16. Inigo Montoya wrote:

    “You killed my father, prepare to die!”

  17. LW wrote:

    Well I can tell you this I know of a church that DOES SING in tongues. It is part of whorship when the Spirit falls. So yes it is possible to sing in tongues. It is really powerful and quite beautiful.

  18. LW wrote:

    Sorry for the typo should be worship.

  19. FormerDJ wrote:

    Trent, it’s Pricilla McGruder.

  20. Pedantic wrote:

    Maybe someone can help me out here. What exactly is “soaking music” or “prophetic worship”? Is this what Doug is talking about here? I’ve only ever heard it referred to, but never actually heard any.

    See my comment over on the Open Thread

  21. Derek wrote:

    #17 hit the nail on the head. It is a glorious thing to hear and experience as I have personally. And I certainly wouldn’t want to make light of it. That might be blasphemous territory.

  22. not a grammarian wrote:

    I finally tracked down my copy of “All Fall Down” by the 77’s - can you believe that came out in 1984? The speaking in tongues comes at the very end of the song “Ba-ba-ba-ba” and is spoken under the music, so not technically “sung”.
    Doug - thanks for initiating the search, I am really enjoying listening to that whole album by the band described by Larry Norman as being “too Christian for the radio, and too radio for the Church,”

  23. natesings wrote:

    #13- Not arguing, just asking…how would Marshall be pushing him?

  24. quartet-man wrote:

    In regards to Guy, If it is anything other than being human, I think it is possibly singing so hard and high for such a long time and maybe a bit with age. He has belted out songs for years. I hope he hasn’t done any damage. I do remember hearing him crack on I believe George Younce’s funeral service. (One of the online funerals if not Younces.) The song was I Believe In A Hill Called Mt. Calvary I think.

  25. Ron F wrote:

    #23 Years ago Guy Penrod pushed Jonathon Pierce right out of a job. Guy had such a big range and it put jonathon in a strain.What I am saying is sometimes a lead singer with a good high range can really push a tenor. Maybe that wouldnt be the case with a Baritone to lead. Am I making any sense? Does anybody understand what im trying to say.

  26. Chris wrote:

    I’ve been a “wild-eyed, crazed, Pentecostal” all my life. Speak in tongues myself. But I’ve never heard anybody sing in tongues, and would doubt the authenticity of it if I did hear it. And I seriously doubt anyone in the studio would time it just right and capture it on record.

  27. onemadeupmind wrote:

    One time I heard a woman in church break out singing in tongues to the second chorus of “The Sun’s Coming Up In The Morning.” I Promise You, the words she sang were:

    “Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Fillet Gumbo.”

    I thought, that’s not the spirit, that’s Hank, Sr.

    I challenge each of you reading to sing those lyrics to the tune of the Sun’s Coming Up. By the way, people shouted all over the house during that service!

    That’s what I heard that day, and many of us crack up still to this day.

  28. Grigs wrote:

    “Amazing Grace” can be sung to the tune of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme. Not sure why anyone would want to do that, but it can be done.

  29. brad wrote:

    i loved Jonathon but though he was more of a lead than a tenor.

  30. jbb wrote:

    I believe in tongues, but, do not practice it or attend a church that does. I truly believe it is a gift from God, if you are seeking it, however, if God is not the author of confusion, why would you sing in tongues or worship in tongues if others could not understand it?

  31. wackythinker wrote:

    I recently took a class that taught the spiritual gifts were given to all believers at time of conversion, as The Lord sees fitting. If that’s true, the theology of “seeking” a particular gift or gifts is faulty.

    The teacher went on to say that, even though we may not be “gifted” in a particular area, that doesn’t preclude us from learning a particular attribute, ie hospitality, teaching, etc.

    Now, can someone tell me what comparison of GVB members (past and present) has to do with this thread. Is there a glitch in website, or in the users?

  32. Harry Peters wrote:

    #17 LW: When a whole church sings in tongues does everyone hear it in their own language? Who in the name of God interpreted for them?

    #27 One Made Up Mind: I have a couple of funny stories, too. I had a seemingly sincere charismatic christian woman who worked for me and who was very proud of the fact that when her husband spoke in tongues, he had “kind of a chinese accent.” “Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Fillet Gumbo.” is probably just someone with more of a “canjun” accent. :-) Mind you, until her, I had no idea that unknown tongues had accents. If they are unknown, how would you know if it was an accent?

    I also knew a deacon when I was a child who would soundly sleep through the sermon. If he was called on to dismiss in prayer, his wife would elbow him and whisper, “pray, Guy, pray” and he would rise to his feet from a dead sleep and pray the most eloquent prayer of anyone in the congregation.

    Being a mere mischievious lad, I started to sit beside him each week. One Sunday during a lull in the sermon, I elbowed him and whispered, “Pray, Guy, Pray.” As if moved by the spirit, he sprang to attention and dismissed us. Everyone got so tickled, the preacher just ended the service.

    Now I ask the question. Was he “praying in dreams?” If he were bi-lingual and had forgotten where he was and prayed in Spanish, would he have been “praying in tongues?”

    I have to hand it to #27 One Made Up Mind. I’ve heard and seen enough stuff like the “Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, Fillet Gumbo,” to believe every word of what he said was true.

    How many times have you heard people speak in tongues without the benefit of an interpreter?

    Isn’t it interesting that you really never hear trained clergy from an accredited seminary speak in tongues? Maybe education replaces the need for it. I truly believe in the miracle on the day of Pentecost that people from different countries heard the Gospel proclaimed in their own language. I also believe in interpreters for different languages as well as for the deaf.

  33. Revpaul wrote:

    #32 “. . . you really never hear trained clergy from an accredited seminary speak in tongues”.

    Yes, it seems the more degrees, the more you hear the “original Greek” and mis-pronounced Hebrew shoveled into the sermon. So it still adds up to speaking in unknown tongues. :0

  34. Angie M wrote:

    Years ago, I heard a recording with singing in tongues. It wasn’t a national recording. The song was “Sanctuary,” not a traditional SG tune, but the recording was SG, if memory serves. I don’t remember the name of the artist. It was Cathy (or Kathy) somebody, I think. Wow, I’m sure helpful! But I thought the recording was quite beautiful. I grew up in a Jesus-Name church, and I heard my mother sing in tongues on many occasions.

  35. charismatic clergy wrote:

    “33 Would you call Lee’s Collage accredited seminary? I hear ordained Bishops from Lee’s speak in tongues all the time.I have been in service with some of SG’s greastest and heard them speaking in tongues.(sometimes under there breath as not to affend anyone)
    And yes I guess I do use “original Greek” and mis-pronounced Hebrew in sermonds to much hehe ;)

  36. E.I.Gensch wrote:

    Singing in the Spirit, in tongues, is a regular thing at IHoP-KC (the International House of Prayer - Kansas City, MO). You can check it out at . The prayer room is live, but for video-cast it is $10/mo.; audio-cast - $5/mo. They do have the EGS services for free at 6:00 pm Central Time on Fri. and Sat. which starts with about an hour of worship. I don’t know how much of that includes singing in the Spririt like they have during regular sets during the day 24/7. There may be a sample of the web-stream there, I’m not sure.

  37. Rebecca nickerson wrote:

    I too was very sceptical of tongues ,also baptist upbringing..GOD had to show me HE uses it….and i have heard tongues and interpretation and heard people magnify God with it and pray in an heavenly or earthly language…but one day at home i was singing and praising God and I began to sing in tongues….I did not try just flowed and just had a heart full of praise…I would guess in the song of the Mcgruders…they weren’t perhaps singing just praising him between because of a strong presence of the lord and he can let you know what you are saying.give understanding

  38. Russell Graham wrote:

    Mike Adkins had a song called Adoration on which he sang in tongues. He is the same Mike Adkins who told the story about his neighbor Norman on the Focus on the Family broadcast, which I understand is one of the most popular they’ve ever done

  39. Russell Graham wrote:

    I grew up in a Pentecostal church and I heard none other than Rosie Rozelle speak in tongues while he was singing Oh What a Savior once when he and the Searchers sang at our church.

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