My Song In The Night

Dr. Mack Wilberg has written a new arrangement of the American Folk Hymn entitled “My Song in the Night” which is hauntingly beautiful. I have tried to do some research online regarding its origin and history, and came up a bit empty-handed. However, the text to this hymn is particularly haunting. The words invoke an attitude of deep personal pleading:

My Song In The Night

O Jesus, my Savior, my song in the night

Come to us with Thy tender love, my souls’ delight,

Unto Thee O Lord in affliction I call,

My comfort by day and my song In the night.

O why should I wander an alien from Thee,

Or cry in the desert Thy face to see,

My comfort and joy, my souls’ delight,

O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night


The text of this hymn most certainly takes inspiration from the following scriptures:

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with my own heart, and my spirit made diligent search.”- Psalm 77:6


Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?” – Job 35:10

For Latter-day Saints, one of the beloved scriptures regarding the divine purpose of music is found in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 25.This is a written record of the priesthood blessing that Emma Smith, wife of the prophet Joseph received in Harmony, Pennsylvania during July of 1830. Emma is praised for her character and devotion, and she is given words of personal encouragement and comfort.Emma is also instructed to compile the first hymnal of the Church, with an added explanation of the importance:

For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” – vs.12

musical-communionIt is particularly touching to think of song as a prayer. It stands to reason that raising our voices in prayer is a heavenly form of communication – and becomes a silent song to our God. Likewise, raising our voices in song becomes a musical form of communion. As the lyrics above state, song is a human “delight”. I submit that music is also an intrinsic need of our souls. We were born to sing. And in turn, the Lord will commune with us by sending His own song in response.

How do we spiritually sing to our God? There are many ways. The scriptures give several good points of departure.

1. To give thanks for all things:

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children…For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord: giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ– Ephesians 5:1, 8, 19-20

2. To express joy even in affliction:

“Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.” Psalm 149:5

3. To acknowledge the Lord’s hand in our lives daily:

“O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.” – Psalm 96:1-2

These are such beautiful verses. Each poetic and tuneful in their own right. Indeed, by internalizing these words and pondering them are we not already experiencing a “song of the heart”?

Singing is such a personal form of expression. No two voices are alike. Alone, one voice can penetrate a dark night, and make it bearable. And when music and voices are combined they can become a powerful force to be reckoned with. Joshua’s army of trumpets and voices brought down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6). The prayer and songs of Paul & Silas brought down their prison walls (Acts 16)!

What symbolic “walls” could a song and prayer of our hearts bring down for each of us? Indeed, I believe the song-full prayers of our hearts have unimaginable healing power.

The imagery of Night is important in this particular American Hymn. Night is a time when souls often feel the most forlorn and forgotten. Having spent many sleepless nights in a hospital near my daughter’s bedside, I can attest that pain, sorrow and loneliness are prolonged at an agonizing pace. Depression also runs deepest in the dark hours. We know that suicide claims multitudes before the hope of dawn. It is not by mere chance that Satan himself is called the “Prince of Darkness”. Surely, his power and work runs most rampant through the midnight hours. Indeed, the dark embodies Fear itself. 

jesus-holds-the-wearyYet, we are told that the Savior will be our song in the night. What a beautiful promise! He sings to our soul during times of the greatest distress. He lifts us through the fog and mist. The divine power of music can bring a peace that “surpasses all understanding”. Music brings comfort. Music is hope. Music penetrates directly into our hearts and deepest corners of our souls. I have personally experienced this more times than I could possibly count. A song can truly bring the Spirit of Christ into a room with immediacy, and unlike any other force. Once the Spirit of Christ has entered, He is the Light. And where there is Light, no Darkness can dwell.

“I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with my own heart, and my spirit made diligent search.” Ps. 77:6

embracing-the-nightPerhaps we should therefore rejoice in the nighttime’s of our lives! For it is when we are submersed into the darkest places of our heart that we are then prepared to ‘diligently search’ for, recognize, and embrace the Light.

An anonymous American hymn testifies this truth to us;

“My comfort and joy, my souls’ delight,

O Jesus my Savior, my Song in the Night!”


This post was updated 10/3/2011 – MoSop


  1. This is a beautiful post–a lesson in itself about the value of singing. Thank you for sharing. I would never have thought of singing in the night, but it would certainly shake off a few worries if done quietly.

    By the way, the color artwork for The Ardanea Pendant is now posted (scroll down one from today). You can see how close your ideas match the final version if you want to take a peek. Clicking on the actual picture should give a larger image. Thanks so much for all your helpful advice.


  2. Dear Mormonsoprano,
    Heard the Mack W. version this morning on MTC #4103, and started digging. Your site is great! I’ve forwarded the link to a cousin in Provo, because she is a singer, and It (your site) is so rich.
    It is easy to find the Paul Christiansen version–sheetmusicplus or Belwin/Alfred music. Mack seems to perform his arrangements with the MTC well before he publishes at Oxford Univ. Press (O Light of life, Let Peace then still the Strife, examples–I’m going to check with the Choir Office re: My Song….)
    I think our interest in this piece is similiar–the connection to scripture is very important to me–My Song… would seem appropriate to sing at a Hospice bedside.
    Thanks for a great “page”.

    Bob Manley, Moravian Bass I in North Carolina.


  3. Postscript from the Moravian Bass,
    Sure enough, the Choir gets to sing “My Song in the Night” well before it is available from Oxford University Music Press–they tell my Mack’s arrangement will be available in April, 2009.


  4. Thank you for this message today. Marion G Romney said that we could develop charity best by lifting others. This song and accompanying video showed that.


  5. Mormon Soprano,

    I’d like to thank you for posting this song, and for your words. I’m a soldier in Iraq. This song has deep meaning for me. I’ve always worked the late shift while deployed, usually getting off at 2 or 3 in the morning. It’s at that time that I come home to recover from my days. My room is a refuge, where I can read my scriptures, listen to the hymns, and commune with God. It’s also the time when I miss my family, and my home the most. I actually walked away from the rooms where my company stays, to a remote area of our base, by a lake, and sang, a few weeks ago, in the middle of the night. I sang O Holy Night, and If You Could Hie to Kolob. I find there are times when the feelings in our hearts simply can’t be expressed without raising our voice in a way that I don’t have an opportunity to do here. I dearly miss my time in the choirs of my youth, when I could fully express my emotions in song. I’m grateful for your page. I’ll probably be a regular reader for the rest of my time here.

    Thank you,



    1. FarFromFL – Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. I am grateful this post could be uplifting to you. We appreciate your service and sacrifice more than you can know. Stay strong and faithful, and keep singing! I will be honored to have you as one of my subscribers.
      – God Bless, MoSop


  6. Your comments are very well put, and are consistent with the text of “My Song in the Night.” Unfortunately, the Tabernacle Choir recording is a missed opportunity. I find it completely devoid of the power, passion and depth that are found in the text. The Tabernacle Choir’s performance is totally divorced from any nighttime struggles. The song is about crying unto the Lord “in the desert” and “in affliction,” but the Tabernacle Choir singers are all smiles when they sing those lines.

    Not only is the musical performance blase and lacking in stress or conviction, but the video misses the boat as well. We see cute little girls taking a neighbor cookies, a handicapped black guy getting wheeled around by an elderly gentleman, etc. Very sweet, but those are utterly different subjects. This song is about the inward battle against Nothing in the video brings the Savior into the transaction other than the mention of his name in the text of the Song. One hopes that maybe something will develop with the apparently depressed homeless guy, but somehow in the change of a frame he magically appears in the concert hall in a white shirt and tie. It’s not convincing.

    An excellent, moving rendition of the piece, by Concordia College Choir, is on youtube at Normally I’m a great fan of the Tabernacle Choir, but it’s like they were all on Valium when they recorded this piece. Thank God the Concordia College leader and singers were more clear on the concept.


    1. Lots of water under the bridge since this early video. First, as evidenced by other videos, the music is usually more back-drop than integrated relevance. Second, the introspection you anticipated is somewhat at cross purposes with choir protocol which can be summed up as “with a big smile.” (I have a work colleague and other friends in the choir.) Last, the seating of these people featured in the video in the Conference Center isn’t part of the narrative, but only to express that those we help (the video’s theme, arguably unrelated to the lyrics, is “pass it on”) are among us, are our community family.

      I found this performance nicely done; without the video (I have also CD and see a YouTube version minus video), they convey the hymn’s message very well. Sorry you were put off by the video and I’m not surprised though I can embrace it for what it is myself.


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