Monday, November 16, 2015

Songs of Hope, Songs of Surrender...

I've been thinking a lot lately about God's gift of music. I wonder if familiar songs and hymns affect you the same way they affected me in the early days of grief? Are you able to sing and listen to music in the same way you did before your husband died?

In my book, Postcards from the Widows' Path, I wrote about music along these lines:

"In the early weeks of widowhood, music was especially painful for me. I literally choked on the words. Songs like “Great is Thy Faithfulness” meant far more than I could physically express. But the songs of surrender and sacrifice were the hardest. As I listened to the singing in church on Sunday mornings I wondered—how could anyone turn such hard truths into pretty tunes and sing them without a care in the world?

You people have no idea what you’re singing about, I thought. They were too young, too na├»ve, and they knew little of loss or suffering. They were mouthing the words, just playing a chorus, oblivious of the day they would need to make those very words their own.

When the psalms and hymns are not our experience, the repetition, memorization, and mouthing of them in music are our primer. They prepare us for days to come, hard days when we’ll need to put them into practice. Spiritual songs suspend God’s doctrine of personal surrender like medicine in an intravenous solution. They inject healing truth into the soul and help begin to fill our emptiness." Other widows have told me similar thoughts:

There is something about praise music and hymns that have always touched my heart. This is so much more so since my husband's death. Sometimes the song's words have been difficult, but they are also such a comfort and blessing. Spiritual music has a way of connecting us with God which I think is something we all so desire. - Sharon
For me the hymns I grew up with and "mumbled" through in my younger days became salve to my wounded heart and touched my soul deeply. I so appreciate them now, more than I ever did before. I do enjoy praise songs, but the hymns bring peace and depth to my soul. - Beth
At first, after my husband "moved to heaven" I couldn't bring myself to listen to any music; however, as the weeks turned into months, I find peace, comfort and solace in listening to hymns, music he loved and songs of hope. - Carol
How about you? Has music had a healing and helpful effect upon you? Does it sometimes catch you unaware, and send a storm of emotion rushing upon you? What is it about music that affects us so much? Let's talk about it this week. Share your thoughts, mention favorite song titles and anything else you'd like to say about music's affect on you. ferree


  1. Hymns and Christian music have been a very it regal part of my life since I was a little girl. Playing the piano helped me to unleash all the emotions that I had inside and allowed me to pour it all out on those 88 keys. My brothers used to beg me to stop playing.

    After my husband went to heaven, I couldn't listen to music for a while. One day a male cousin sent me an email with the link to the song "If You Could See Me Now". I had never heard it. It opened up such a floodgate of tears and emotions. I found myself listening to it over and over and over again. It was as if the words were exactly what Bob would have been saying to comfort me.

    Six years later I still find that I am unable to sing those great hymns and songs because it so deeply affects me. I can mouth them with tears streaming down my cheeks. The meaning of the words are so changed now. I, too, look at others singing and think that they really don't know what they are saying and how "dangerous" some of those words can be and what might happen if God takes them at their their lives could be changed drastically.

    The hymn that gets me the most and means the most to me is "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". I remember many years ago singing it with all of my mother's family at a family reunion and how so many faces had tears flowing down their faces as we sang. Even though this is not the plan that I had for my life, I can see how very faithful my God has been and continues to be to me. (Tears streaming as I type this)


  2. The day after Joe's funeral I went to my typical Saturday evening service. The first song was about someone running free in heaven. (Insert buckets of tears here.)

    I do not remember listening to many songs at home during the first few months after his passing. Then all of a sudden it was time for the stores to play Christmas music. I heard 3 dead singers sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" during one trip at the grocery store. I came home and had a meltdown before unpacking the groceries.

    It's been 7 1/2 years and sometimes hymns will get me teary-eyed. The same with Christmas music but I also am very selective as to how often I got to stores during the holiday season.

    I do have cd's of different hymns or contemporary Christian songs I listen to but my favorite is still Disco music as it really gets me dancing and experiencing the release of a ton of endorphins.

  3. My sweet husband, Tony, had been a professional musician during his lifetime and music held a special place in our marriage. I almost always had music on the radio, TV, internet streaming, in the car, or playing CDs. After he died, I could not listen to music as it was too painful for me. Instead of comfort, music enhanced the loss I felt within. To realize he would never play again, his sweet music no longer for my ears, his beautiful instruments dormant in their cases was just so deeply painful and I believed impossibly lost forever.

    Eventually though, I was able to listen to music again, except for tunes that especially reminded me of him, whether it was the lyrics that spoke of love or the melody he had played before. This happened for me when I began inserting Jesus' name in place of the "you" that was Tony. It was sort of like a bridge back to music for me. I can now listen to all our favorites once again and enjoy them as before. Sometimes there are tears but that is okay now. They are tears for the good times we shared and felt between us.

  4. My husband and I met at Ohio University at a University Symphony rehearsal. He was a trumpet player, I a violinist. We married after college and played and taught music for the rest of our married life which ended when he went to Heaven March 12th, 2014. I listen to music all day. I listen to classical music but my husband and I had many favorite hymns which we sang each Sunday and we enjoyed harmonizing with each other. My husband taught music in the schools, I just private lessons. I hear many of our favorites throughout the day and on Sunday. Many of them still make me cry because I miss him so much. Someone told me to turn my music off! I said I could no more do that than stop breathing. I wipe the tears (at home) and keep going. We had and I still have a deep love of music so it also soothes me. Life would not be true if I didn't listen to music all the time and I thank God for the love of music.

    1. I found music really comforting & healing, especially the hymns at my husband's funeral. I picked all the music myself. It was all English as my husband was English & had served in the Royal Navy. The clergy & organist were very accommodating as I knew exactly what I wanted! Prelude was Parry's "I was glad" written for the Queen's coronation. Hymns were "Christ is made the sure foundation," "He who would valiant be,"
      & "Eternal Father strong to save" (Royal Navy hymn). After the benediction the organist played "The Last Post" (British equivalent of Taps). This should actually be played on a bugle but it works great on the trumpet feature of a pipe organ. Then the recessional was "Heart of Oak," the Royal Navy March, though at a slightly slower pace. The overall effect was, if I may say so, magnificent. The
      music was robust & majestic & dignified. It was so stirring & I was so proud of my husband !

  5. Dear friends, Your comments have stayed with me all week as I realize there are many more layers to loss and music combined. Yet, the Lord shows himself faithful and powerfully touches our hearts through the gift of music and great words from the past, from the faith of our fathers, grandfathers and saints of old. My sincere thanks to each of you for these beautiful glimpses.


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