By: Dennis Bates
Do you ever hear a song in your head and end up humming it for the rest of the day? I do. Sometimes it drives me crazy and other times it drives almost everyone around me crazy because I have been known to sing the tune out loud for no particular reason at all, except that it feels a need to come out.
On occasion, it’s something as mundane as a TV jingle, and why is it that the silliest ones seem to stick with you? Just a few I can’t seem to shake: “No salt salts like Morton salt salts,” “N E S T L E S, Nestles makes the very best… Chocolate,” and one of my long time favorites, “I’m the Carnation Cow, you kids can’t see me now; sometimes I’m invisible, you see, just like vitamins and energy.”
Other times, it’s the National Anthem or the Canadian National Anthem. For some reason, I’ve always considered it to be inspiring. Maybe I went to too many hockey games when I lived in Minnesota; they used to play both anthems before the NHL games back in the day. Other tunes that sometimes take center stage in my head include show tunes from Broadway musicals. I love them and don’t go there.
Who knows why some of these songs just pop out when they’re least expected? However, with some songs, it’s pretty easy to tell. Hymns are like that with me, and choruses from Black Spirituals are the same way. I think these latter two groups are answers to prayers that we may not have consciously prayed. Something we longed for, but never really articulated reached God’s ears and he answered us even though we never asked. We can learn a lot about questions that may be troubling us just by listening to the songs God gives us as an answer.
Take today, for example. Almost since I got up this morning the third verse of an old Spiritual and its chorus has been playing in my heart. It almost makes me want to dance and shout.
Down in the valley, when I feel weak
It’s when the devil, use’ly speaks
Because he’s crafty, and full of lies
I need the Spirit to keep me wise.
Ev’ry time I feel the spirit moving in my heart, I will pray
Ev’ry time I feel the spirit moving in my heart, I will pray.
This song, like so many Spirituals, uses simple words and a toe tapping syncopation to unlock heartfelt theological truths we can all relate to. It is when we are lowest that Satan sneaks in to try to steal our joy. We should never listen to him or let him mess with us. Instead, that’s when we should pray for the wisdom and the protection of the Holy Spirit. He will never let us down.