FROM cathedral choirs to flashmobs, school assemblies to Buddhist monks, more than one million people raised their voices to sing or chant for peace on the UN’s International Day of Peace.
The singing began on 21 September in New Zealand, and travelled across 70 countries in a global wave of sound, finishing on the west coast of Canada. Venues included offices, temples, gurdwaras, mosques, schools, playgrounds, and street corners, as well as a flashmob choir in Trafalgar Square, London.
The initiative “One Day One Choir” was begun three years ago by the soprano Jane Hanson. Troubled by the images of conflict emerging from Syria, she turned to the power of singing with others as a way of spreading harmony and peace.
“This year we had more than a million singers wanting to add their voice to sing or chant for peace,” she said, “including Buddhist monks chanting in temples, 700 schools in Pakistan, and 40 cathedrals in the UK.
“I have sung all my life, and it is very healing and connecting to lift up your voice with others. And it is so easily accessible: anyone can do it, whether they are joining in at school or singing at home.”
Scientists have studied the benefits of singing together with others, and have discovered that singing in a group synchronises the heartbeats of singers, and also releases endorphins, which help singers to feel better, physically and mentally.
Cathedral choirs that joined to sing for peace this year included those from St Paul’s, Canterbury, Wells, and Truro. In Truro, Paul Haines, who staged a walk for peace between Rome and Jerusalem in 2015, organised two days of mass singing for peace.
Football foundation organises Beirut fixture. A football match has brought together Lebanese and Syrian youths in Beirut who had taken part in a forgiveness programme organised by the Foundation for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, in Lebanon (FFRL). Tensions have arisen between Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities, and teenagers suggested addressing tensions through a football tournament.
The founder and director of FFRL, Ramy Darwich Taleb, said: “Football is universal. It crosses cultural and religious boundaries, and immediately provides some common ground. It also creates a platform to deal with conflict in a healthy, restorative way — and one that is, hopefully, fun at the same time.”