Whoever is familiar with the customs of the ancient Church will know, that this was their daily exhortation with which they would disperse after evening prayers. So it’s really the good night greeting of the Church. The night bears natural intimidation with it. The ancients knew that and we sometimes remember it too. The night was the time, when the Lord of darkness is especially active and on the prowl to catch, whom he can. Everybody, who knows how significant and meaningful this time of sleeping and dreaming is for the inner life will also understand why the old people, who were consciously and conscientiously striving for salvation and eternal life would hold these biblical words in high esteem and constant practice. However the Church was never under the illusion that the old enemy would only be active at night. Holy Scripture talks about the “arrow that flies by day” (Ps. 91:5) That’s why it is probably more realistic to say that every time has its peace and its own dread and woe. Just as the holy and mighty angels of God are active all the time and without rest to carry out their wholesome and saving mission, so too Satan does not give rest, but tries to disturb, disrupt and destroy God’s good plan and work. It is only thanks to the mercy and grace of our Lord and God, that the enemy of our souls doesn’t have free reign. As nobody of us knows when the devilish liar and evil foe will tackle us next, the admonition of the holy apostle is relevant at all times and in all places: Be self-controlled and alert. (1Pe 5:8 NIV)
Lord, our God – the eternal and constant light of our life. Before you our night is like day and the deepest darkness is just bright light. We come to you with outstretched arms. Come to us like the late summer rains, that brings flourishing and fruition to all. Stay with us and remain with us as the day is coming towards its end and the night is falling. Nobody can protect and keep us safe and sound but you alone, our God. Hasten to stand by us, protect and keep us throughout the night that no evil may befall us. Wake us with the morning sun and let your face shine upon us and let your light enlighten our hearts, so that we will grow and increase in true knowledge of you in true faith and living hope progressing steadily in your way according to your holy will. Let us rest peacefully this night. Allow us to waken again joyfully and healthy in the morning so that we may go about our calling to your honor and glory. We praise and thank your holy name now and forever. Amen. (Wilhelm Löhe)
Now tired body go to bed and rest in peace and quite. Oh tired eyes – close down for now, for that’s God’s will, but oh heart keep this confession dear: Oh Jesus, I’m yours! That’s a good and happy end to any day and thus we bid good night in Jesus name and commit everything into his gracious care. (Paul Gerhard, 1607-1676)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Wednesday after the third Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 238 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.