Music in the Night



One night a week or so after Priscilla went home to heaven, I was tossing restlessly in bed, sleepless with grief, when suddenly I started hearing beautiful music playing—loud, clear, and near.  I thought the angels were coming for me, too.

The stylized violin logo from Vanessa Mae's first classical album.
The stylized violin logo from Vanessa Mae’s first classical album.

But after I’d listened for a short while, I recognized the music.  It was from the classical violin CD I’d used for my memorial PowerPoint.  Then I figured out what had happened.  By some improbable chance, on one restless toss, my hand had struck the sound system remote that was on my beside table, exactly on the power button.  The CD was still in the player, and as it was the last input to have been used, it started playing automatically when the system was powered on.

I listened gratefully to the music.  It was comforting.  Then I felt as if God had a message for me in what had happened.  It went something like this.

“Why do you think I gave you humans the ability to create and appreciate music?  To let you express, or hear someone express for you, the profound things you’re experiencing.  And yes, to comfort people like you who are feeling sad.  You’ve got all this music in your house.  Why haven’t you been playing it?  Do I have to do a near-miracle of physics to get you to turn on your sound system?”

Point well taken. After that, I listened to the CD some more, and eventually I felt so much better that I was able to turn if off and go to sleep.  The next day I started playing music all the time, and this really helped.  I had too much to process in my mind and heart to listen to music with words, but instrumental classical music was just right.

I played through my own collection so often that I began to want to hear some other things.  Then came another of the silver linings that I’ve been able to recognize, looking back, shining around the particulars of Priscilla’s care.  As I explain in this post, once she could no longer hold a book on her lap and turn the pages, and once she could no longer change CDs in a portable player, she started listening to recorded books on a tablet or computer.  She used apps that included Hoopla Digital, which we could access with a library card.

When we entered search terms on Hoopla, it would always return results that included music and ebooks as well as the audio books we were looking for.  We’d eliminate the first two categories to narrow down the results.  But the fact did register in my mind that there was music on the site.  Recalling this now, I went looking for it intentionally, and ever since, I’ve been maxing out my monthly borrowing privileges, using them for classical albums that I play in the background pretty constantly when I’m at home.  This brightens the atmosphere and helps me process everything I’m thinking and feeling.

Maybe some music can help you today, too.  After all, God did give us humans the capacity to appreciate it.

A favorite from my recent explorations: C.P.E. Bach, Flute Concerto in D Minor, Second Movement (Un poco Andante)

Author: endlessmercies

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister and served local churches as a pastor for nearly twenty years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School. Dr. Smith answers questions about the Bible, particularly those that arise from the use of his study guides, at

2 thoughts on “Music in the Night”

  1. I share your experience of music reaching in the crevices of our grief stricken, lonely, sad hearts. It- along with attachment to God- has held me these long years as an orphan, and to be brutally honest, enabled me to survive a difficult home life.

    Because I grew up in Bethlehem, PA, a town with a rich musical and liturgical history (Moravians – big music lovers, and The Bach Choir- an established choir with great music) I received the gift of a rich aesthetic sense, gratis. And then my own formal training came through a church choral program, piano lessons, high school groups, and Moravian College and Westminster Choir College.

    So when my internal meter is begging for solace, I have the gift of a huge education and repertoire to choose from. Any setting of a Pie, Jesu helps me pray. There was a time when Bach Motet Komm, Jesu, Komm was the only comfort I wanted.

    Choral music- even now- is my favorite. But classical guitar gets there too. And Eva Cassidy.

    Just thought I’d share. Glad to hear you finding what He’s offering.


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