We all have times when our soul doesn’t want to sing. Here’s what to do–from Chiara Lubich.
When the soul doesn’t sing, then something is occupying it and this something should immediately be given to God.
The suffering could be brought on by external things (and these are more easily overcome by souls who want to love Love); the sufferings could be within us (scruples, doubts, melancholy, temptations, emptiness, homesickness).
They all need to be given to God.
The quicker the giving, the sooner love descends into our hearts.
A friend and I were talking just the other day about how wonderful the “old” short songs are, especially for memorizing Scripture. They may be old, but they are ever new. I find myself singing them frequently, especially when I’m out for a walk. As Amy Carmichael so wisely says: “The reason why singing is such a splendid shield against the fiery darts of the devil is that it greatly helps us to forget him, and he cannot endure being forgotten. He likes us to be occupied with him, what he is doing (our temptations), with his victories (our falls), with anything but our glorious Lord. So sing. Never be afraid of singing too much. We are much more likely to sing too little.” Here’s a sampling of those I love.
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever
His banner over me is love
I love you Lord and I lift my voice
A Sunday-poem from Amy Carmichael:
Too High for Me
I have no word,
But neither hath the bird,
And it is heard;
My heart is singing, singing all day long,
In quiet joy to Thee who art my Song.
For as Thy majesty,
So is Thy mercy,
So is Thy mercy,
My Lord and my God.
Thy ways with those who wait
About Thy gate:
But who could show the fashion of such ways
In human words, and hymn them to Thy praise?
Too high for me,
Far shining mystery,
Too high to see;
But not too high to know, though out of reach
Of words to sing its gladness into speech.
A guest post from Ann Voskamp: “What to do on Hard Days” The devil hates singing . . .
Sometimes an old hymn is just what we need to lift up our hearts and souls. So many of the old hymns are laced with Scripture, and singing them speaks much deeper to our hearts than we know. (God’s word always goes much deeper than we know.) Here is a beautiful rendition of O God, Our Help in Ages Past (with subtitles so you can sing along!).
The reason why singing is such a splendid shield against the fiery darts of the devil is that it greatly helps us to forget him, and he cannot endure being forgotten. He likes us to be occupied with him, what he is doing (our temptations), with his victories (our falls), with anything but our glorious Lord. So sing. Never be afraid of singing too much. We are much more likely to sing too little. (Amy Carmichael)
Facing another day of high heat today made me think of the three young men in the fiery furnace. Now that you’re smiling, I actually did meditate on that passage from Daniel today. The attitude of those men in the midst of a life-threatening situation–much more serious than this heat crisis :-)– is amazing. I just want to share a few thoughts:
- When Nebuchadnezzar announces that he will throw them into the fiery furnace if they do not worship his gods, they respond: “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3.17-18 emphasis added) Amy Carmichael did a little meditation on these verses, highlighting the “but if not.” If things do not turn out the way we prefer, will we keep abandoning ourselves to Him, trusting wholeheartedly in His love?
- This verse really struck home: And they walked about in the midst of the flames, singing hymns to God and blessing the Lord. This verse always makes me think of Isaiah 43.2b: When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. No grumbling allowed for me when it’s hot, hot, hot. Only singing hymns and blessing the Lord. (If you’re like me, it’s easier to handle the big “heats” in life than the small ones. . .)
- And most importantly, a fourth man was seen walking in the midst of the fire with the three. Jesus is always with us in the midst of our own fires.
So bless the Lord, O my soul . . . He saves us from the eternal fire, which is the most important.
Amy Carmichael’s poem, “We Conquer By His Song”.
My share-a-poem-with-you this Sunday is from Amy Carmichael.
We Conquer By His Song
We see not yet all things put under Thee,
We see not yet the glory that shall be,
We see not yet, and yet by faith we see,
We see the shadows gathering for flight,
The powers of dawn dispel the brooding night,
The stedfast march of the triumphant light,
Be we in East, or West, or North, or South,
By wells of water, or in land of drouth,
Lo, Thou hast put a new song in our mouth,
Therefore we triumph, therefore we are strong,
Thou vision tarry, and the night be long,
For lifted up, we conquer by Thy song,
For more on singing, see Never be afraid of singing too much and Come, Christians, Join to Sing.
An excellent way to put the Enemy to flight is by singing.
Another thought about those Philistines (from yesterday’s post). One of the things I do sometimes when I’m under attack is to sing–especially small songs, little ditties I’ve learned over the years like “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever” or “I am my Beloved’s and His is mine, His banner over me is love” or “I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice”. It helps us to forget the Enemy and that is a very effective strategy against him. As Amy Carmichael says:
The reason why singing is such a splendid shield against the fiery darts of the devil is that it greatly helps us to forget him, and he cannot endure being forgotten. He likes us to be occupied with him, what he is doing (our temptations), with his victories (our falls), with anything but our glorious Lord. So sing. Never be afraid of singing too much. We are much more likely to sing too little.
But what if you can’t even think of something to sing or your soul is too heavy? Not to worry. Your grief, your sorrow, your heaviness can become a song to Him, a sacred lament. Sing to Him of it. “Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep. (1 Sam. 30:4) And what if you feel that you can’t even do that? Take heart. Just turn to your Beloved and ask His Holy Spirit to sing through you, for you are His song, you know.
I just read this week a piece by Dr. Anthony Esolen, professor at Providence College, entitled “Come Christians, Join to Sing!” It’s worth reading the whole article. Last paragraph: “How sorry such a life [without a culture in which to celebrate] would be! Which makes me think–or I should say, makes me insist–that long before we Christians take to the streets in protest, we should take to the streets in song. Let our merriment abash our opponents, before our indignation steels their resolve. Let’s take them by a storm of celebration. I have no idea what is stopping us. Surely it can not be our knowledge that we’d probably celebrate with lousy music. Our opponents have lousy music too. They invented most of it, after all, and we picked it up from them. Let’s go for the celebration. Not to proselytize; just to pray and sing and be together, outdoors, with people to look on and laugh at us for being the fools that we are. Let them. We keep it up, and they’ll be fools alongside us too.”