I have been involved with our Church choir for many years. I started singing in the choir as a teenager, and also was the choir accompanist as a teenager. As an adult I have also both sung with the choir, and accompanied them on the piano. I was the accompanist for about 5 years, but now am back to singing and only substituting for the current pianist when she is ill.
I have been blessed in many ways through my participation in the choir. As a young pianist, it helped me to improve my talents, especially my sight reading ability. I've never had a solo type voice, but I am a strong alto, and have improved in my sight reading ability in singing as well.
The greatest blessing for me in singing or accompanying the choir has been the spiritual blessings it has brought to me. In our religion we have a scripture that says, "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." To me, singing religious music is indeed much like a prayer. I love to listen to opera because of the emotion and feeling that is portrayed. But in religious music it is taken even a step further because the subject matter is very sacred. When I pray, I say what is in my heart and the feelings that I have. But when I sing, the songs bring more feeling to the words that I say.
I don't think just listening is as meaningful as singing. When a person listens to music, they may or may not understand the words. But when a person practices a song repeatedly, and feels the emotion and deep meaning that the writer intended, they feel the spirit of the music more deeply.
The scripture I quoted says that the song of the righteous "shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.". I think I have felt that blessing in the joy of singing the songs.