Around 9 p.m. every night during the week, students cluster in each dorm lobby, voices raised in song and heads bowed in prayer. Although this tradition goes by several names—Hymn Sing, Psalm and a Song, Song and Psalm—this student-initiated practice of worshiping God at the end of the day reveals how PHC students seek to encourage each other in the Lord outside of required chapels.
“Our lives are meant to worship God, so this is one way to end the day on a note of worship,” sophomore Alex Rubstein said. “It’s a great way to refocus our minds and exalt God again and to maintain the Creator-creature order.” He explained that this refocus is important because it’s easy to become self-indulgent and forget about God after a long day of studying.
Rubstein started the hymn sing tradition in Red Hill during the fall semester of 2022. At first, he and some of his wing-mates gathered in the hall each night to sing a hymn. Then, they moved to the dorm lobby, and others joined, adding suggestions such as reading a psalm, praying, and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
“The whole purpose is to worship God, and so even though I may have started it, I don’t really want the recognition for it,” Rubstein said. “It really is thanks to my wing-mates and the dorm-mates who come every single evening, voluntarily, that this really happens.”
At the beginning of the fall semester of 2022, in Oak Hill, alumnus Isaac Churchill (‘23) and the three other RAs of the dorm brought back the “Psalm and a Song” tradition practiced by Churchill’s former RA, Ben Stiegelmeier (‘21). “Psalm and a Song is important because it's voluntary,” Churchill said. “Another reason is that it is easy to hyper-focus on school and self. We were not made to focus on ourselves, but our grades can overshadow God's grace if we're not careful.”
Churchill explained that this time of worship is an opportunity to encourage others and be encouraged. “It is discouraging to spew out a lousy paper for Dr. Mitchell, but it is encouraging to belt out ‘Be Thou My Vision’ with the amigos,” he said.
Psalm and a Song begins in Oak Hill at 9:15. The RA on duty leads the men in reading a psalm, praying, singing a hymn, and singing the national anthem. “Sometimes it's only a few guys. Other times we've had upwards of 30 people join from all the dorms,” RA and junior Titus Walker said. “It's really an awesome tradition that is a simple and fun way to praise God and join in good Christian comradery.” In Fall of 2023, the three women’s dorms joined the men's dorms in the tradition of nightly dorm worship. “I honestly just thought it was such a good idea to build community within the dorm,” RA and senior Eva Cooley said. She explained that Song and Psalm encourages girls to see fellow dorm-mates as sisters in Christ and not just girls who belong to a wing.
Similarly to the men’s dorms, the women gather around 9 p.m., and the on-duty RA leads them in reading a psalm, singing a hymn, and praying. “It is such a sweet time to see girls from other wings and lift our voices in praise,” Cooley said. “So many evenings, I remember thinking that the songs really sound angelic with the ways in which the voices lift upwards in the lobby.”
She said that taking time each evening to worship honors the Lord with the time he has given. “By making that small sacrifice, you are saying, ‘God, you are worth it for me to take these five minutes and worship You. You matter more to me than this assignment,’” she said.
“I also love that every dorm participates in Song and Psalm now, which means that every weeknight at around the same time, every single one of our dorms is praising the Lord together,” Cooley said. “That is powerful.”
Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.