Night with Ebon Pinion
How many times have I (have we) sang this song without fully understanding the words. Countless in my case. Oh sure, I understand and silently weep over the suffering of our Savior, remembered in and by this hymn. But in a recent bible class which still resonates with this author, we were told that when we sing without understanding… we sing amiss! At the time, my mind went years back to a tender age, when I mistakenly thought a song's lyrics spoke of "up from the gravy arose." Understandable, for we were all once children, and many of you have similar stories. But what of today? When we sing spiritual hymns, are they more than just words or a melody… they should be!
"I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding." 1 Corinthians 14:15. - Sometimes this passage is used when addressing our need to sing hymns with understanding, but I fear it does not specifically apply. The context was of "speaking with tongues" in the worship services at Corinth. The apostle's point was the speaker must interpret, so that all within hearing would understand and be able to "amen" the message.
However, the principle of this message still holds true today, outside of first century prophecy and tongues in Corinth.
"be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your
heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God
the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," - Ephesians 5
What does God seek in our singing of hymns but to praise Him, edify each other, and give thanks for His bountiful blessings. How can we do so, if we do not understand our words? Too often I focus (maybe you as well) on the melody at the expense of the message, the words. So, let us take another look at this song.
Night, with ebon pinion, brooded o’er the vale;
All around was silent, save the night wind’s wail,
When Christ, the Man of Sorrows,
In tears, and sweat, and blood,
Prostrate in the garden, raised His voice to God.
The night was dark, the emotion heavy, as if the dark wing of a bird (ebon pinion) covered the vale (valley) much like a hen would lovingly, tenderly cover her brood of chicks under her wing against harm or threat (brooded o'er the vale). We see the same imagery in the words of Jesus' lament in Matthew 23: 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings." We also see the humanity of Jesus as He tells his disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” We read of our Savior's agony in the Gospel's, the accounts of that solemn evening so long, long ago.
Smitten for offenses which were not His own,
He, for our transgressions, had to weep alone;
No friend with words to comfort,
Nor hand to help was there,
When the Meek and Lowly humbly bowed in prayer.
Christ knew what would take place on the morrow, but He was left alone, in anguish, as his disciples slept. Alone, completely alone…but was He? No! He was never alone! Just as we are told to do (privileged to do), He shared his burdens with God.
Phil. 4"6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“Abba, Father, Father, if indeed it may,
Let this cup of anguish pass from Me, I pray;
Yet, if it must be suffered, by Me, Thine only Son,
Abba, Father, Father, let Thy will be done.”
Almighty God! His will must be done on earth and in heaven. The Son acknowledged this truth. We must recognize it not only in our singing, but also when we pray. God's will must be done! Recall when three Hebrew boys in a foreign land prayed to Jehovah for deliverance from a fiery death: 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3.
Our Savior has redeemed us from our sins! Hallelujah, Amen!!!
"Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” - Revelation 5
- Danny Pickett