My Songs In The Night

February 8, 2015
by Diane Eaton

Psalm 77:5-6a – I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. (NIV)

As I write this, we are gripped in the fourth day of winter storms — with yet more snow days expected. We're stuck at home. But that's okay. We're enjoying the preparations made earlier: the stored food, stacked wood, and countless other blessings … like Psalm 77.

I mention Psalm 77 because I find it so fitting. I meditated on it during the wee hours last night, while the wind was howling outside. This psalmist obviously feels terribly stormbound. It is a storm in the night, a storm within his soul raging so badly that God must surely have abandoned him. I think of stormy experiences known only to me, such as the inner torment of regret or of irreparable misunderstanding. The psalmist doesn't disclose his precise problem. But he does disclose a deliberate, calculated plan for coping in this storm. He says, "I thought about the former days, the years of long ago." (Psalm 77:5 NIV)

The psalmist digs deep into the storehouse of his memories. He pulls up a breathtaking audio-visual presentation of God's mighty deeds, a myriad of proofs of God's faithful love. These are the psalmist's "songs in the night".

At first, these "songs in the night" merely remind him of the absence of God's blessings. His nation is stuck in a season of spiritual decline. Perhaps the psalmist has been wounded by the abrasive nature of calloused hearts all around him. Yet note: He doesn't stay stuck in his present woes. He turns his gaze to the bigger picture, and sees a great God of enduring promises. Yes, indeed! God will remain faithful in the future just as He was in the past. The God of the past is the God of the future. This assurance keeps the psalmist from falling apart. He remembers his songs in the night.

We need such songs too! Even modern research declares their benefit for our minds and bodies. Words set to good tunes, and learned well, stick in our memories for the rest of our lives. They're available during dark storms.

In a recent visit, a man sang for me a song that had sustained him during his brutal battle with cancer some years ago. In his darkest hour, he had recalled the song over and over again. That hymn (a setting of Psalm 61) became his best medicine. It was his song in the night.

I was amazed at the power of that song, even during our visit. His wife soon joined in; it had been her song too. Partway through, he began to weep. That stirred me to tears. Through the song, this couple had invited me into a tender place in their hearts. Past memories were stirred; they shared God's countless blessings. Oh, what warm, tender fellowship! I will never forget it.

Do you have a good song repertoire in your memory, to serve as a storehouse of God's faithfulness for the dark storms? I say: Go ahead and learn good songs. Sing them over and over again, those wonderful words of life! This can be your best gift to yourself. After all, well-learned songs last longer than all other memories and can be immensely reviving, even in the final days. If you have your own "song in the night", I'd be delighted if you shared it with me.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the songs that we have learned, even from a young age. Inspire us to learn and share enduring songs of faith. May we encourage one another with our hymns and spiritual songs – and all the more as we see the Day approaching. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    I appreciated your devotional very much today. It was the old songs I learned in Sunday school many years ago that helped me through a very stormy time in my life, when I was struck down with hearing voices (not schizophrenia, not dementia). As the enemy attacked me 24/7, I played those beloved old hymns over and over through my mind and they kept me going and from giving in to the enemy. That was 19 years ago almost and I am still under spiritual attack, but I still hear the old songs I learned so many years ago. I am 81, God in His mercy has let my memory still function so I can still have recall of all the old songs and it still helps. Thank you for letting others know how much the old songs can help us.


    Always a pleasure to read your inspiring devotions.
    I, too, have my favourite song, and it helps me to be more positive in my saddest and loneliness of times.
    It is “Give thanks with a grateful heart; give thanks to the Holy One; give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son. And now let the weak say I am strong; let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us; give thanks.”
    That is my song.
    Have a blessed day, and may God bless you each day with continuous health and strength.


    Thank you for your message this morning. “In the Garden” springs to my mind as my “song of comfort”.


    Thank you again, Diane. I love reading your devotionals. Hope to see you at church this summer when we are at Green Acres Park just south of Kincardine.


    Thank you. Bless God for having you send this message to me as my husband of 57 years is dying. The hymn that comes to mind is “Onward Christian Soldiers”, my Dad’s favourite hymn.


    A lot of songs come to mind, but one in particular is “Will your anchor Hold”. My neighbour, who was like a brother to us all-girl family, would use my Dad’s John Deere tractor and plough. Over the noisy tractor, we could hear him singing with great gusto “Will your tractor hold in the storms of life” every word that referred to “anchor” he put in “tractor”. He did this with other songs but this is the one I remember. He is no longer with us, but the memories are he was such a great example that when he was in Owen Sound hospital, the staff would come to him for counselling when on their coffee or lunch breaks. What good memories of a man of great faith.


    Thank you for your devotional on keeping songs and hymns to memory. When my husband was dying with cancer, his greatest comfort was when I would play the old hymns he loved, and he would sing along. Near the end, I had a CD of favourites, and I played that beside his bed. Thank you for that wonderful memory.


    Loved your email. “Great is thy Faithfulness” is my anchor, and when we have sing time at chapel, I always request p.44. “Great is thy Faithfulness” has special meaning for me.
    Thanks for writing this devotional.
    Love and blessings.


    Interesting that this subject came up. I have been weathering my own storm for over a year now. and yesterday, out of the blue, “Will Your Anchor Hold” popped into my head. I was amazed that I had not been singing it to myself the last few months as it had been my “Song in the Night” when my husband had leukemia when our children were babies (2-1/2 and 6 months old — literally babies!). That was my song 25 years ago … and stayed with me for many, many years afterward, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me that I was missing it in my life this time around.
    It made me wonder if perhaps I have strayed too much. I pray. I try to live a worthy life. Perhaps in my struggles with life, I have tried to take too much upon myself (always trying to be independent) and in doing so, forgot that being strong does not mean being alone. God is always there.
    While reminding myself that everything happens for a reason and that God will give a solution in His time, maybe I have been inadvertently putting up a wall because I resent the stress I am under. My anchor is still there — but have I weakened the chain that connects us?
    Thank you for a devotional that spoke to my heart and reminded me to dig deeper in my relationship with God.
    (Barrie, ON)


    Thank you for your devotional. Too many times to count, songs and music have sustained me. One in particular is “Keep Me Safe Till The Storm Passes By”. Today, I need to be reminded of those words. Instead of keep “me” safe I need to replace that with the name of our granddaughter who is 17 and in the throes of rebellion. Not sure where she is or who she is with, but I pray continually for the Lord to protect her and keep her safe.


    Thank you for this wonderful message, Diane. We all need a song in our heart to praise God. Mine is, “Jesus Saviour, pilot me, over life’s tempestuous sea.”


    Ah, bless you, Diane, your message today stirred me to tears too.
    Blessings.
    P.S: My dear 84-year-old better half is now in a Christian nursing home far away, and sometimes, I feel so lonely all alone in our home where we have lived for 40 blissful years. Of course, I visit her every day, but at night, I miss her and feel lonely.


    So true — I have my one special song in the night that I sing to myself. What a comfort!


    Thank you, Diane.


    Yes, Dianne, I have my own “song in the night”, actually two of them side-by-side in the 1997 edition of the Presbyterian Book of Praise: “O Lord my God/How great thou art” (#332) and “I sing the almighty power of God” (#333), although the tune to the latter in the book is not my favourite. I feel that my soul actually does sing when I belt out the chorus to the former:

    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee,
    How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
    Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee,
    How great thou art! How great thou art!

    May God give you showers of blessings.


    One hymn that often plays over and over in my mind and I love singing is “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a foretaste of heaven divine”. Thank you for today’s devotional and the reminder of the joy hymns can bring for yourself and others.
    Blessings.


    Thanks for the good word, Diane.


    Thank you, Diane, for your lovely devotion this morning. We are on the road travelling and were not able to find a church having a service that fit into our schedule, so your devotion was our church service this morning. And how appropriate. We had just finished listening to some old gospel songs by Tommy Hunter too. I was blessed to grow up in a family where we always sang in the car wherever we were going. So I know many of the “good old ones”. And probably MY songs of the night would include “It is no Secret” and also “I come to the garden alone”. And having been involved with palliative care most of my nursing career, I understood exactly what you shared with that gentleman and his wife. And how special to be able to experience that truly sacred moment.
    Again thanks for your devotion this morning. Loved it. And may God continue to bless you in your writings as you share His love with others.
    Be blessed, be surprised.


    In December, I experienced a severe illness — near death. As I lay not really knowing reality, the 23rd Psalm became a reality. I experienced Jesus walking with me, holding my hand as we walked through the valley of the shadow of death. The song was very real, and the Lord more so. I agree, hymns are a wonderful comfort. The Lord richly bless you. Thank you for this lovely devotional.


    Hi Diane. I could really relate to your message today. I sing with a praise team, and over the past 10 years, I have learned many songs that mean a lot to me. I use some in my morning devotions, especially when I am praising God. Many is the night when I awake and there is a song going through my mind. One particular song that has special meaning for me is “The Power of Your Love” by Geoff Bullock. Here are some of the words:

    Lord, I come to You, let me heart be changed, renewed
    Flowing from the grace that I’ve found in You
    And Lord I’ve come to know the weaknesses I see in me
    Will be washed away in the power of Your love

    Hold me close, let Your love surround me
    Bring me near, draw me to Your side
    And as I wait I’ll rise up like the eagle
    And I will soar with You, Your Spirit leads me on
    In the power of Your love

    I used to listen this song over and over again when I was going through a difficult time in my life. As I am writing these words, I am thinking maybe I ought to be listening to it again on a more regular basis. These words are very powerful indeed. What a blessing and a gift music and songs are! Thanks for writing.


    “I have songs of the night.” When I am unable to sleep. Which are many. I will start with A – Abide with me, B – Blessed assurance and on down through the alphabet.
    And there are a few letters that don’t have a song which I know. My Bible verse which has helped through my problems is Psalm 25:4 & 5. When I was teaching Sunday School, one of the lessons had this written up as a song. So it is also easy to sing.
    When my husband was alive and I was unable to sleep, I would go to the organ without lights on, put my headphones on and just play and play.
    Thanks for your message. I heard a sermon Sunday. We don’t know what the ups and downs will bring us. But one thing we are certain about is that we all will die.
    I am 85, so it is getting closer. Have a blessed day.


    Good morning Diane! Thank you for “My Songs in the Night” My Task, Brighten the Corner, Count your Blessings, Great is Thy Faithfulness, and In the Garden are my songs in my mind, in my heart, and in the memories of the music played on the magnificent pipe organ at Knox Church, Kincardine.
    I thank God and thank you for your talents of inspiration!!


    A beautiful message with a wealth of information and wise counsel that assures us as how one can overcome that which is tormenting us mentally and keeping us awake fretting during the dark hours of night.
    Worry is indeed a heavy burden to carry and the “tempter” seems to know that when we are tired and alone in the dark, he can do a better job of making us lose our confidence in Him who is able to sustain and guide us if we but surrender to Him.
    However, your suggestion to sing away our despair is a beautiful one, sometimes hard, but often comforting. Even as Christians, we have times of disarray and unsettling events in our lives and becoming frustrated. We do not know which way to turn. But for those who love it, music does soothe the soul and cause us to look beyond the trials at hand.
    After we lost our son, the beautiful hymn “Face To Face” brought me much comfort because I realized my son, although absent from our surroundings and unable to enjoy life with us, was in eternity where he could uphold the glory of seeing his Redeemer Face To Face and enjoy all the blessings eternity offers.
    Thank you for your lovely message. You always make my day so much better.


    How your devotional resonates with me! My hubby and I used to lead the choirs in our church for many years. I often would break into a chorus or parts of an anthem or hymn no matter the situation. My ‘kids’ used to say “Mom, you have a song for everything, don’t you!”
    As I reflect on years gone by (former days, the years of long ago), I realize what a blessing it was to share those ‘wonderful words of life’ with so many young and old. I hope and pray that some of the ‘sharings and learning’ of so many wonderful songs of faith are as much a blessing to them as they have been to us.
    As I sit in my hot tub late at night, looking at the grandness of the night sky, my heart and soul are filled with songs. (I sing them ‘in my head’.) The one that stirs me most is from a musical we did with the Jr-Y choirs back in the 70’s or 80’s (if memory serves me right)… “O Lord, my Lord, How excellent Thy Name is, how excellent Thy Name in all the earth, Your glory fills the heaven, beyond the farthest star. How excellent Your Name in all the earth”! As I type the words, I ‘hear’ that song from long ago. Nothing like Scripture set to music!!!
    Thank you so much for writing this devotional. Although I’m not referring to a storm/problem, I still identify with the power of God through music.

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