I have kept a diary record of an event, which began early in 2016, the seventeenth year of my husband’s deterioration from the rare neurological, terminal disease known as multiple system atrophy. He was a strong, godly man, lifelong vegetarian, church pastor, missionary, and denominational administrator who walked or jogged daily. During retirement, it was heartbreaking to see his diminishing health. As his physical condition indicated that he was nearing final sleep, I grew close to exhaustion from years of care. I felt I could do no more. The good-byes of soul mates in Christian service, though filled with hope, are both difficult and sad.
The strange occurrences
By February 2016, the unusual event had become so established that I began diary entries about it. What was this reoccurring event? If I woke in the night, I clearly heard music in my mind. I heard words and sacred melodies of faith and comfort before I fell asleep again. My first diary entry was on the morning of February 21, when I wrote what I had heard that night: “Jesus, the very thought of thee, with sweetness fills my breast, but sweeter far thy face to see, and in thy presence rest.”1
Diary entries confirm that the event persisted frequently throughout that year, 2016, until death in November finally separated my husband from me until Jesus comes again.
Was the sacred music to comfort me only through those stressful months of final care? No. In 2020, the music continues to sustain me in widowhood and solitude, though with less frequency. I consider them “songs in the night” (Job 35:10).2 Sometimes now, by the next morning, I have quite forgotten the details, but I know that I am not alone. I can face the day and know that I am alive for a purpose.
The power of our Friend
As Christians, we often talk about answered prayers, the wonder of grace, forgiveness, and God’s leading in our lives. These are all reminders of the power of the divine Counselor, Comforter, Teacher, Friend. He is the Third Person of the Trinity, who is watching over us on earth while Jesus is our Mediator in heaven.
After a disclosure in 2017 about my songs in the night, two women came to me, separately and alone, to quietly tell of clearly hearing Christian songs in their minds, and during the night too. It had happened regularly when they were going through terrible trials. Both believed their promptings were of the Lord, via the Holy Spirit. I have since met another Christian who has experienced a similar blessing. Recently I heard the interesting testimony of a regular viewer of the televised program Hope Sabbath School. She said that songs from the Hope Channel were in her heart when she woke in the morning.
The prophet Zephaniah affirmed: “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).
Elihu, the younger and most helpful friend of Job, testified that “people cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night . . . ? ’ ” (Job 35:9, 10). Elihu’s memorable words are set out in the largely poetic form of the book of Job. As poetry, they might be interpreted as symbols of protective care during dark experiences. However, in chapter 35, Elihu is talking about reality. He is a realist who does not suddenly diverge into symbolism.
The great psalm writer, King David, disclosed his own experience: “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me’ ” (Ps. 63:6–8).
Isaiah says, “The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my song;3 he has become my salvation” (Isa. 12:2).
A greater outpouring
The human mind may be likened to a database or library catalog. It is not surprising, then, if stored data—Bible texts, hymns, or significant memories, such as baptism or answered prayers—are implanted or drawn on by the omniscient Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Friend.
In the apostle Peter’s address at Pentecost, he referred to the prophet Joel, saying: “ ‘ “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” ’ ” (Acts 2:16–18; cf. Joel 2:27, 28).
Since day one
Those already in fellowship with the Lord will not be surprised when the greater outpouring of the Spirit occurs “in the last days.” Ever since “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:2), the Third Person of the Godhead has been an active presence in the story of humankind.
Indeed, He has been present throughout the Bible and in unfolding history, even today. He is a true and reliable Counselor and Comforter, One who is with me and in me and never leaves me alone nor without assurance. The Holy Spirit helps believers remember Christ’s instruction, whether in parables and sermons or in deeds (John 14). As an Adventist fundamental belief says of the Holy Spirit: “He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth.”4
And, in my case (and in others), He, the Third Person of the Godhead, gives, yes, songs in the night.
- Edward Caswall, “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee,” 1849, public domain.
- Scripture is from the New International Version. All italics added.
- Marginal reading.
- Seventh-day Adventists Believe: A Biblical Exposition of Fundamental Doctrine, 3rd ed. (Silver Spring, MD: Ministerial Association/Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2018), 69.