“Lo, the Nightingale of Paradise singeth upon the twigs of the Tree of Eternity, with holy and sweet melodies, proclaiming to the sincere ones the glad tidings of the nearness of God, calling the believers in the Divine Unity to the court of the Presence of the Generous One, informing the severed ones of the message which hath been revealed by God, the King, the Glorious, the Peerless, guiding the lovers to the seat of sanctity and to this resplendent Beauty.”
This is an introduction in Bahá’í scriptures to the use of the image of a nightingale as a mouthpiece of God. This role of the nightingale is further explained in the scripture:
“When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude. Therein he will discern the wonders of His ancient wisdom, and will perceive all the hidden teachings from the rustling leaves of the Tree — which flourisheth in that City.”
“They that valiantly labor in quest of God’s will, when once they have renounced all else but Him, will be so attached and wedded to that City that a moment’s separation from it would to them be unthinkable. They will hearken unto infallible proofs from the Hyacinth of that assembly, and receive the surest testimonies from the beauty of its Rose and the melody of its Nightingale. Once in about a thousand years shall this City be renewed and re-adorned.”
The City of God is renewed every thousand years or so and each time there is a Nightingale who sings the Message of the City. These Nightingals have separate identities and personalities, but sing the same essential, spiritual message: love and honor our Creator, love and help our fellow human spiritual beings. That is the Law and the Prophets.
Some of the identies these Nightingales are known by include: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Khrishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddah, Christ, Muhammad and, most recently, Bahá’u’lláh (the Glory of God).
The nightingale has been used as a symbol in literature since, at least, the days of the Odyssey. It was then, and since, a symbol of spring. That is not inconsistent with the use in Bahá’í scripture, each new Nightingale, each new Messenger/Savior, signals a new spiritual springtime for the human race. It is also a symbol of longing; of a lover longing for the Beloved. It has been thus for centuries and will likely continue for centuries more.