“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” (Acts 16:25)
Am I the only one tempted to read this verse and say (to myself, of course), “Why did they sing?” Why not just preach and witness? The praying I can well understand, because there was much to pray about, for sure. They had been stripped of their clothes and repeatedly beaten (v. 22-23). Then they were thrown into the inner bowels of the prison and their feet fastened in stocks (v. 24). And God only knew what they might have to face when the sun came up the next day. If they felt inclined to sing, one might expect to hear some mournful dirge like “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” But, instead, the entire population of that Philippian jail was electrified to hear joyful praise in two-part harmony, probably something attune to “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.”
Whatever it was, this particular “midnight melody” did several things: It shook the foundation of the prison and opened its doors; it loosed the shackles that bound those two beaten and bleeding men of God; and it saved the life of the jailer as well as the souls of his entire family.
I know the power of singing. I’ve felt its effects in my own life, and I’ve seen it in the lives of others. It still has the power to shake the foundations of the Church, help loosen shackles that threaten to hang onto the child of God, and direct the hearts and minds of the lost to the Gospel story. And I have lived (and sung) long enough to know that the songs that have the greatest impact are the midnight songs. Not the songs that roll off the tongue, but the ones that are wrenched from the heart. Not songs that sing themselves, but ones sung at great cost. Not intoned with pathos, but with passion; not the sound of melancholy…but the ring of victory!
“Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me…” (Psl. 42:8a)