22. Sunshine in my soul
I have experienced first hand the darkness of severe clinical depression. Having burnt myself out working 90 hours a week for too many years , I collapsed physically and then found myself in a state of mental despair. It is odd, looking back, to see how I was unable to do anything and spent most of my time asleep or indoors.
We moved to France in 2002 and it took eighteen months for me to get better . The first ‘public’ re-appearance I made was at Limeuil in 2004 . I had been asked to take the service there but five minutes before the service was due to start I nearly fled ! The good folk there supported me and I was given the strength to go through with it and the fact that I survived the experience helped me enormously on my road to recovery.
Christians who suffer from depression can sometimes find themselves in an even deeper chasm as they know that their faith should make them happy but to tell a person suffering from depression that they should be happy is like telling a man with one leg to walk. Our understanding of mental health is improving and people are beginning to realise that just to say, ‘cheer up’ isn’t really helpful.
But our faith can support us during those darker days and even when we feel far from God his hand is still outstretched to us. I fought my way back to health with lots of fresh air and sunshine. In the end I needed that sunshine to re-enter my soul and it is for this reason that I love the words of this hymn.
I sang this song in Sunday School as a child and, when we did, we sang it boisterously. But recently I heard a recording of a choir singing the song in a reflective and thankful tone. Being in isolation, or having a sense of helplessness (as many have been in the current crisis) we need to somehow seek out that sunshine in our souls. And Jesus , listening can hear The song I cannot sing
There may be times when you cannot sing or speak because of the darkness or because you have lost your way but we need to remember that Jesus is listening anyway.
So there is gladness in my soul today , and hope and praise and love. Alleluia !
The writer of the hymn, Eliza Edmunds Hewitt 1851-1920 , wrote the hymn when in great pain. She was a teacher in Philadelphia who had been attacked by one of her pupils and was injured so badly that she spent six months in a body cast. When the cast was removed, Eliza managed to walk and she wrote this hymn shortly afterwards.
The tune (Sunshine) was composed by John Robson Sweney (1837-1899).
There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright Than glows in any earthly sky, For Jesus is my light.
Refrain: Oh, there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine, When the peaceful, happy moments roll; When Jesus shows His smiling face, There is sunshine in the soul.
There is music in my soul today, A carol to my King; And Jesus, listening, can hear The songs I cannot sing.
There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope and praise and love
For blessings which He gives me now,
For joys laid up above.