When to Sing



“It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.” — Psalm 92:2




Composer Franz Schubert died destitute in Vienna at the age of thirty-one, leaving nothing but his clothes and what his brother called “some old music.” It transpired that this “old music” contained a series of beautiful songs (lieder) which are still performed today.


One of his best known song series was based on twenty poems written by a traveling horn player. We know nothing of the horn player’s travails, but we know enough of Schubert’s life to marvel that a man experiencing such pain and sadness could write such beautiful music. Schubert wrote to a friend, “I feel myself to be the most unhappy, unfortunate creature in the world…Every night, when I go to sleep, I hope I will not wake again, and every morning reminds me only of yesterday’s unhappiness.”


The book of Psalms is another song series. The psalms have been in use for millennia in the liturgy and life of the people of Israel. Psalm 92, for instance, is a song “to be sung on the Lord’s day” (Ps. 92: Title). This does not mean that ancient worshippers sang praises only on the Lord’s day. Those who follow the psalmist’s thinking know that “it is good to proclaim [the Lord’s] unfailing love in the morning, [his] faithfulness in the evening” (92:2). Every morning,every evening.


Morning and evening thankfulness is good, not only because it lifts the downcast soul and makes the godly “flourish like palm trees” (92:12), but also because it is an expression that comes from the satisfied soul. That soul can say, “You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!” (92:4), and marvels, “Lord…how deep are your thoughts” (92:5). The thankful heart is made “strong as a wild bull” and exclaims, “How refreshed I am by your power!” (92:10).


By contrast, the miserable soul compounds its own pain. Schubert went to sleep dreading the next morning, and woke reliving the previous day’s unhappiness. But if a man cannot recount the Lord’s goodness, if he cannot recognize it in what is common, in good times and in bad, he will not think to “give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High” (92:1).


If you go to bed miserable, you stand a good chance of waking up sad. But if you lay your head on the pillow with thanksgiving, you are more likely to greet the morning with joy. We can wake in worship when we sleep with singing!


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