Songs in the night

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Photo credit: mconnors from morguefile.com

Somehow over the last several months (years?) I’ve developed a tendency to wake up once or twice during the night. Friends tell me it’s part of “middle age.” I always have to get up and go to the bathroom when I wake up, and often I stumble back to bed and fall right back to sleep. But other times I’m awake for an hour or so. That’s not too much of a problem these days since at this point in my life I can catch a nap during the day if I need to, unless I need to be up at a certain time, or it’s a Saturday night and I really want to get back to sleep so I can stay awake in church the next day.

But I have learned that stewing over being awake is no way to get back to sleep. Sometimes I think, often I pray, and if my husband is not in bed I’ll turn the radio on with the “sleep” button that lets it play for an hour.

Recently when I turned the radio on in the night, the station was playing the old Unshackled program featuring stories of people whose lives had been changed through the ministry of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

That really took me back. When I was a new Christian in the 70s, I’d often turn the radio on when I first went to bed. Unshackled played, as well as The Quiet Time with Albert H, Salter, Joseph Barclay as the soloist, and Lorin Whitney at the organ, Nightsounds with Bill Pearce, and the Haven of Rest Quartet program.

At that time we had just moved to Houston and away from familiar places and friends, my parents had just divorced, I had recently been saved and my family was not particularly interested, and these programs met a deep need in my life. Maybe Albert Salter and Bill Pearce just had particularly soothing voices, or maybe because these program were on late at night they were designed to be soothing and peaceful, but they definitely poured balm on my troubled soul. I’m so grateful they were there for me and for others. The Quiet Time was still on until fairly recently, and it always warmed my heart to hear those familiar voices.

I know the Bible wasn’t primarily referring to Christian radio or recorded music when it said “God my maker…giveth songs in the night” (Job 35:10) or “Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life” (Psalm 42:8), but He certainly used them to minister to me.

I still love those programs though they’re considered old-fashioned now. And I love a lot of new music that is being produced now and has been since then.

I hope my children and loved ones know that in their deepest needs, in the “night,” literally or figuratively, they can find His songs, His peace, His comfort and instruction. And of course there is music for life’s highest joys as well, and everything inbetween.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. Psalm 63:5-8

Psalm 77:1-14:

1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?

Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?

Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.

11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.

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17 thoughts on “Songs in the night

  1. Several blessings here, Barbara. One is God’s care for a sweet new child of His. Another is that, even though those men recorded those songs in a studio somewhere and they will never meet you (until heaven!), God used them and their Bible-based music to comfort and strengthen your heart in Him. Praise the Lord! And, thank you for sharing.

  2. I frequently have trouble sleeping, so I understand. I’m older than you and awaken four to five times per night. (sigh) I agree that it is an excellent time for prayer.

  3. LOVED the old radio programs. The year I graduated from high school, my dad started/managed a Christian radio station for a local church, and I did a lot of announcing. So I am very familiar with all of those as well as many more you did not mention. One of my favorites, ironically considering your title, was the Songs in the Night broadcast from Moody Church. It started with the King’s Karolers trio singing “Songs in the night, songs in the night, The Lord giveth songs in the night!”

    Bill Pearce was also a wonderful late-night speaker/musician. I especially appreciated him when, as a newlywed, I had to stay alone at night in a new town because my husband worked night shift. The first night alone, his topic was fear! I knew God sent that radio program just for me!!!

  4. I know this wasn’t the main thrust of the post, but I thought this was interesting: According to a BBC article, before the invention of electric lights people would regularly sleep for several hours, wake up for an hour or two, then go back to sleep:

    In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

    His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

    Much like the experience of Wehr’s subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

    Sounds like a totally normal thing then to wake up for an hour or two in the middle of the night. And it lends a bit of context to phrases like “he giveth me songs in the night.”

    • That’s interesting. I wonder if it had to do with falling asleep early because it was dark but then not really needing that much sleep, so they woke up in the night. One of the last times the lights went out here, it was mid-evening, and after a while we went on the bed because there wasn’t much else we could do. But I don’t remember if I woke up in the night then or woke up earlier than usual.

  5. What a sweet post, Barbara…. oh, how I remember meeting the Lord laaaate in the night when I was a teenager staying up studying. Your post brought back memories. In some respects, I long for those days again when my life was much simpler. I keep reminding myself…. there is a season for everything. These days, I just crash when my head hits the pillow for 4-5 hours before it’s all over again.

  6. Yup, I think all of us that are older know what you mean about the wake ups! I also remember going to sleep with the radio on as a teen. This is what first starting me praying —I had happened to hear an “old guy” say he prayed everyday of his life….etc and I thought , well , anyone can do that. So I started doing it every evening. It wasn’t long afterwords that I realized I didn’t know the God to who I was praying. It was then that I began earnestly seeking Him. It was back in the late 60’s.

  7. It seems this has touched a chord with more than just me–but your memories brought back memories of my own, falling to sleep to “Night sounds” and to “Unshackled” both. There is nothing more frustrating than anxiously trying to get back to sleep–and nothing more wonderful than enjoying sweet fellowship with God in the unexpected night hours.

  8. Beautiful post!
    I frequently wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time getting back to sleep. My doctor said it was part of perimenopause (yay). I sometimes have to shut my brain down because I start thinking about all the things I need to do and I stress myself out making sleep even more elusive. Nothing helps me more than prayer. Prayer calms the mind and the soul.

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  12. What a wonderful post and reminds me of when I was first saved in the late 70’s. I, too, would go to bed and listen to those same programs! They were on WKDN in Camden, NJ and part of the Family Radio Network. What memories you have brought back for me. I recently found Family Radio online and can listen again–although those programs are no longer on. They do have Quiet Hours, which is kind of the same thing.

    Thanks so much for sharing this memory!

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