It seems to be an early morning of hymns….
“We’ve a story to tell to the nations, That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy, A story of peace and light, A story of peace and light.
For the darkness shall trun to dawning, And the dawning to noonday bright,
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, The kingdom of love and light.
We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
A song that shall conquer evil, And shatter the spear and sword, And shatter the spear and sword.
For the darkness shall turn…..
We’ve a message to give to the nations, Tha the Lord who reignth above,
Hath sent us his Son to save us, And show us that God is love, And show us that God is love.
For the darkness shall turn….
We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, Who the path of sorrow hath trod,
That all of the world’s great peoples Might come to the truth of God, Might come to the truth of God!
For the darkness shall turn….”
I first learned this hymn as a ten year old at First Baptist Church of Shellman, Georgia. “Miss Jane” Wooten was the leader of our Girls Auxiliary group (GA’s, as we were called). This was the theme song for GA’s. Through the years of playing piano for church on Sunday evening, I must have played it numerous times.
In 1997, when I was experiencing acute emotional and psychological distress, one morning I was walking in my neighborhood and this song was stuck in my mind. I had the impression that, during the night, somehow, I had been transformed, that my heart had literally been “turned to the right”. I imagined that, if someone had done an Xray of my chest, they’d see that my heart had flipped over and instead of it being in the left side of my chest tilting to the right, it was now in the right side of my chest, tilting to the left. I was very conscious of my heartbeat. It was a surreal delusion that persisted for some time. It was later that day that I was hospitalized with psychosis after two months of struggling.
Just a few days before, I had awakened in the middle of the night with another delusion- that I had died, that my heart had stopped. There was such stillness in the middle of the night. I couldn’t find my pulse and I remember awakening my husband and telling him that I was dead, that my heart had stopped beating. Today I asked him if he remembered that night. He did not. I later discovered that such experiences are called “cotard’s syndrome”- described by Jules Cotard in the 1880’s, it is “a syndrome of mental depression, in which the patient complains of having lost everything, often believing that he or she has died and is a walking corpse. … Paradoxically, being “dead” often gives the patient the notion of being immortal. ”
It was a confusing time in my life, but one which I value tremendously for all that I have learned. It did give me a “story to tell”. Now whether that story has the ability to help turn other people’s hearts “to the right” remains to be seen! Ultimately the story that I tell is of God’s love, His healing, His tender compassion for a wayward, Prodigal daughter and how He “turned my heart to the right.”
I still love this song and, in moments when my joyful heart is floating, straining against the tether that holds it to the earth and in my chest, this tune will come to mind……