Softly now the light of day
Fades upon my sight away.
Free from care, from labor free,
Lord, I would commune with thee.
This must be one of the shortest hymns in the hymnbook. There are other verses–they bring up the fact that God can see even in darkness, and expressing the hope that at the end of our lives, we can commune with God more personally–but this is the only verse in our hymnbook.
It’s no secret that I love symbolism and metaphorical language, but in this case I’m content just the one, rather straightforward verse.
I love the simplicity here. The sun sets, the work day is over, and the speaker wants to pray. Though he or she doesn’t spell it out, there’s a connection there. Night is naturally a time for prayer. It must be a habit of the speaker’s.
I use an checklist to try to cultivate good habits (and eliminate bad habits) of my own, but this hymn reminds me of the endgoal. To pray, not because it’s something that I aspire to do, or because I really want to complete my list, but because it comes naturally to me. Because the hunger in my soul is as regular as the hunger in my stomach, at specific times of day. Because not only do I want to do it, it has become second nature.
Tonight, it seems possible. And as simple as this hymn.