Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Can I Keep From Singing?

It's so easy to become frustrated and discouraged with our lives day-to-day. Some of us have terrible crosses to bear; most of us, on an average day, have mere annoyances--bad weather, bills to pay, onerous chores, petty disappointments, and not having enough time to do the things we like to do. Great or small, our troubles bear so much less upon us when we remember how much harder others' are than our own, and how abundantly we have been blessed. One needs to think of but one thing to be thankful for, and then a second, and a third, and . . . before you know it, your sky is lightening and so are your burdens. There's no better armor against despair than humility, faith, and remembrance of the infinite Love that bought our souls with pains far greater than we could ever comprehend.

I think that the beautiful hymn How Can I Keep From Singing? perfectly expresses the attitude of heart that we should strive to maintain all day, every day. The words and music were composed in 1860 by American Baptist minister and hymn writer Robert Wadsworth Lowry (1826-1899), and are performed in the video below by the outstanding Welsh singer Aled Jones. The lyrics he sings are only slightly different from Lowery's original, which are reproduced below the video (you may have heard a version of this hymn by Enya, but I believe her lyrics are, unfortunately, scrubbed of all references to Christ). I first heard this hymn several years ago when it was performed by the Brockport, NY High School Choir, in which my son Colin sang. It was rendered so beautifully, and filled my heart with joy! This also happens to be one of my mother's favorite hymns, and I dedicate it to her with much love.

So, whenever you're feeling blue, march right on over to Songs of Praises and look up this hymn in the Titles List to listen to this and other gems of sacred music inspiration!

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though 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 though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though 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 Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
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?


  1. This happens to be one of Mom's favorite hymns. We sang it at mass one Sunday...I love the complexity of the words and the simplicity of the music. Or maybe I love it because Mom loves it. Thanks, Tom!

  2. I never knew it was a hymn! I only knew the version by Enya. The song has new meaning to me. Thanks Dad!

  3. OMGosh--what a beautiful setting, for a beautiful hymn! It gave me the chills.... There is something to be said for the old hymns: they speak volumes in just a few verses. Thank you for posting it!