Top 5 Things for Hands while Singing at Church

Sometimes I am not quite sure what to do with my hands while singing at church. I am not particularly comfortable with raising my hands, even when the song says “I lift my hands.” This is part of my personality and part of my current context. I want to share with you the things that I end up doing with my hands while singing at church and then I have an important question for you.

  1. Pocket Protector – This is when I have my hands in my pockets. I usually put my hands in my pockets when I am tired or a little uncomfortable with the song that I am singing. Transition to this pose most often comes from At Ease or Seat Backs.
  2. Seat Backs – When there is a pew or a seat in front of me and I am not sure what to do with my hands I may lightly rest them on the seat back in front of me. I hope the person doesn’t choose to sit down early. I might switch between this and The Fig Leaf
  3. The Fig Leaf – Hands folded in front of me. Think about it a minute.
  4. At Ease – This is where I try to keep my hands most of the time. I believe that I should be comfortable with them at my sides, but at times this will lead to  Pocket Protector
  5. Palms Up – When I am feeling particularly confident / moved by the Spirit, I may lift my palms face up with my forearms parallel to the ground. This has a couple different varieties depending on the position of my hands – straight out in front, together around the belly button, close to my heart.
  6. High Five – At a crescendo in the music or lyrics, I will occasionally move my right hand from Palms Up upward as if I were giving the air a high five and then return to Palms Up or At Ease.

What do you do with your hands while singing at church?

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13 thoughts on “Top 5 Things for Hands while Singing at Church

  1. I really appreciate your honesty about this Andrew.

    It is sometimes hard to feel comfortable with our hands during worship.. especially when singing in a place where folks are a bit inhibited. When I am in such a place I am also intimidated and usually keep my hands at my sides.

    Last week we sang a few songs at the KC jail with some inmates and, though I felt uncomfortable at first, I lifted my hands to the Lord as I sang.. when I did my singing seemed to transcend into a different kind of worship.

    Maybe our hands are an outward expression of something going on inside of us.. or maybe it is and outside-in sort of thing?

    Blessings, Bob

    PS: Wonder if those folks at Arrowhead ever wonder about such things when they root for the Chiefs 🙂

  2. Honestly, I hate all the happy-clappiness during songs. I don’t need to clap to show appreciation for the congregation singing a hymn (and can we really call them hymns?).

    I hold my bulletin mostly. I can roll it up and use both hands busy if needed. Keeps my hands occupied without having my hands in my pockets or awkwardly by my side. Point 2 is also a favorite of mine, though more practical at central than west 😉

  3. I have this problem as well. God gave me many gifts, but a good singing voice wasn’t one of them, however, I love singing. I usually ended up with an inverted fig leaf, like my hands clasped but backwards. I do think that the our bodies can be maybe even often are connected to worship. I think it is also important to point out that it is not necessary to have a physical response to make it meaningful worship.

  4. I wasn’t sure if this was a Ricky Bobby allusion–“I just don’t know what to do with my hands.” I’ve been ruined somewhat, because I automatically start laughing because of that that phrase and if a worship leader starts giving direction on what to do with our hands in worship, I’m toast! I hope that you’re doing well! 🙂

  5. I love reading this – thank you for your openness about this! My husband is not a demonstrative worshiper either, and that took me a long time to get used to. The only problem I now have is that due to him being more reserved, I feel that I also have to be more reserved so that I don’t make him uncomfortable… which makes me uncomfortable. Go figure.
    God made each of us different – some feel compelled to lift their hands all the way, some lift them out to the side, some cross their arms in front of their chests – but they are still worshiping (even if it doesn’t look like it to others).

    As for clapping… I have to somedays ’cause I’m up front, but really, Id rather not!

  6. An interesting post, particularly as this dilemma is only present in churches that have abandoned the hymnal for the PowerPoint.

    There’s a variation of your “Seat Back,” which I’ll call “Animal” (in honor of the Muppet). That’s the person who drums on the back of your pew like crazy. Also, this person typically has no rhythm. God bless them, but it drives me crazy.

  7. LOL @Amy–I had similar thoughts. This question never comes up in either of the worship services I attend because there is always a hymnal in the hands of each worshiper.

    I’ve thought of the praise song vs. hymn question, but not really the screen vs. hymnal question, especially as it relates to the individual’s physical worship experience. The presence of a hymnal (or bulletin, lyric sheet, etc.) really defines and constricts how we physically participate in worship. When you have to refer to something in your hands, you don’t have a lot of freedom to move them about! For myself, I find the hymnal to be like a comfort blanket because I’m much too ‘dignified’ (self-conscious) to physically get into singing. If I were present at the 19th century camp meetings, where hymns were lined out by the preacher, my ‘dignity’ might have been interpreted as a lack of the Spirit! Of course, I would never judge the authenticity of anyone’s worship based on their physical activity–just a reflection upon my own posture.

    Back to the original topic, when my hands are free, I tend mostly toward the Seat Back, with Pocket Protector as a fallback. Interesting post!

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