Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How can I keep from singing....

In the early 1990's, an Irish singer, Enya, made a single of an old Christian hymn, "I Can't Keep from Singing." She used words composed by Doris Plenn, a radical activist in the 1950's and 1960's, that removed much the hymn's religious content and focused instead on a message giving hope to the socialist struggle of the time.

In contrast to Enya's version, the hymn's original lyrics, composed by a nineteenth century believer whose name has been lost to history, spoke to my soul. Over the last two years particularly, as I have stepped from the shadows into the light, this beautiful song of praise has become to me an anthem of optimism and gratitude, one that I've sung many times as a prayer of thanks.

Perhaps these words will touch your soul, too.

How Can I Keep from Singing

My life flows on in endless song:
Above earth's lamentation,
I catch the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul--
How can I keep from singing?

What tho' my joys and comfort die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his--
How can I keep from singing?

Day by day the peace of Christ has made my pathway smooth and that peace has continued to refresh my heart. When I contemplate God's hand in my life, particularly when I have needed him most, I am overwhelmed, so overwhelmed in fact that I, too, can't keep from singing.

You see, I know that I, like you, am Heavenly Father's beloved son and that makes all the difference....


  1. A beautiful hymn, Clive. Thanks for sharing it as well as your thoughts and feelings.

  2. I love the hymn, the poetry, and the light, sensitive touch of your post; beautiful.