Theology in a New Key: The Night Song

Let’s bring our music discussion to a close by returning to where we (almost) began. As I mentioned several weeks ago, my wife and I have become enamored with City Alight, a worship group out of Sydney, Australia. The first time I heard them perform “The Night Song,” it struck me as a sweet little ballad one might teach one’s children as a nightly liturgy. Other than observing how we Baptists could use some liturgies of this sort, I didn’t really give it any more thought.

Recent events, however, have changed my perspective. Yes, this song would work well as a nightly liturgy (for children or adults), but its value reaches far beyond the establishment of a daily rhythm of worship. Day and night are powerful metaphors; whether intentionally or not, they represent the various seasons of life through which we all must walk.

As humans, we have an almost visceral fear of “the things that go bump in the night.”  We know instinctively that danger lurks there, that our life can be snuffed out without even so much as a chance to defend ourselves or say goodbye to those we love. And the terror of facing these dangers alone is almost worse than the fear of the dangers themselves.

As Christians, we know we are not immune to the havoc which haunts our nightmares.  Some might read “The Night Song” as claiming such immunity, but it does not. Rather, we know God can protect us from those hideous threats which lurk in the darkness.  More importantly, we know God will hold us in the night and Christ has saved us from the darkness.

Of course, we all prefer to walk in the daylight, to see with our own eyes the ways God is guiding our steps for His glory and our good. But it is our sojourn in the night which defines our faith and reveals our fears. After all, are we really willing to say “none can harm me” when everything from the hair on our toes to the neurons in our amygdala is telling us otherwise? Why must our Good Shepherd lead us “through the valley of the shadow of death?” Why would a good God allow so many painful things to happen to His children?

“The Night Song” is realistic in its reflections upon these questions. We know Jesus has saved us from the darkness because we “will rise to life with him.” We can trust he is present with us in the darkness which will inevitably come because he has been present with us in the daylight and because he has walked the road of death ahead of us.

 Notice here, in good biblical fashion, “The Night Song” does not actually answer the questions which vex our souls. It simply leads us into worship, gently prodding us to put our faith into lyric and melody. It coaxes us into a space where God’s goodness is unquestioned, even when our circumstances conspire to drive us in an entirely different direction. And, in so doing, we find the door to the Spirit’s comforting activity wide open.

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