But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.
Psalm 59:16-17 ESV
I recently came across a ticket stub from a 1986 game (soccer) between Spurs and Forest in London. I remembered clearly that the half-time entertainment that day came from Chas and Dave (Google them?). Out on the field they sang, or maybe lip-synched (there was a suspiciously phony piano and a guitar with a lead that led nowhere) one of their hits, Ain’t No Pleasing You. I looked it up on You Tube, a version with a string section in the arrangement, and listened to it. My mistake.
Why we humans sing at all bears some thinking about, but the power of this (silly) song to trigger old emotions, provides a clue I suppose. I realised why I remembered the song after thirty-something years – it had certain associations for me back then and I found myself reliving old feelings with a surprising clarity…
To ‘sing the Lord’s song ‘in a foreign land’, in ‘Babylon’, may be difficult. We may weep when we remember Zion. But the tears may be just as much tears of joy as of sadness. To recall Zion, to recall God’s past blessings in the midst of present suffering, or to recall His strength exerted for us in the past and His promise to do it again, according to our need, is a powerful encouragement which may be amplified in the singing and especially in singing together with others who share our neediness.
An old friend, long widowed, shared with me her experience of feeling, in her grief when it was fresh, the strength of her husband’s arms comforting her. We may, sometimes, or we may never, experience the strength of God in a similar way in our need, but the promises remain true and in all our waiting for long hoped for resolution to our problems, and in our celebration afterwards, or in our songs of praise at any time, we may be wonderfully surprised at the clarity and depth of the encouragement we experience.