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May 22, 2013

Illustration from “The Nightingale” by Hans Christian Andersen (1900), University of Connecticut Libraries, Author Internet Archive Book Images, Source Flickr (Art-PD l Old-100)

The nightingale is a migratory songbird native to Europe and Southwest Asia. Not a beautiful bird, the nightingale is brown above and light below, with a reddish tail.

Despite its drab appearance, the nightingale sings liltingly, day and night.  The bird’s ancient name derives, in fact, from the Anglo-Saxon for “night songstress”.

It is actually the male bird that sings. Not to be outdone, nightingales sing more loudly in urban environments, presumably to offset competing noise.

Nightingales have inspired poets, musicians, and sweethearts since time immemorial. The great poet, John Milton, wrote of the nightingale in Paradise Lost:  “…as the wakeful Bird Sings darkling, and in shadiest Covert hid Tunes her nocturnal Note [1].”

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me — a prayer to the God of my life” (Ps. 42: 8).

Father, we seek You out as deep calls unto deep.  Our hearts were made to long for You.  Yet when the waves roll over us, we fear at times we are lost.

Forgive our lack of faith, Father.  How can we doubt when You sent us Your Son?

Your mercies are unending. Your beauty surrounds us. We will hope in You and praise Your name…as does the humble nightingale.


[1]  This quote can be found in Book III of Paradise Lost, at lines 38-39.

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