Within Singing the Faith there are many hymns and songs apart from those included within the Lent section of the printed book (StF 234 – 241) that may be of value during the six weeks of Lent. Also see Resources for Lent 2019.
Repentance and Forgiveness
Explore again the Repentance and Forgiveness section (StF 419 – 438), which begins with Christopher Ellis’s Almighty God, we come to make confession; Shirly Erena Murray’s Because you came and sat beside us; and Nick and Anita Haigh’s Empty, broken, here I stand, Kyrie eleison.
The words Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy”) remind us that the Liturgical settings section (StF 749 – 790) towards the back of the hymn book is also a valuable resource.
James Macmillan’s St Anne’s Mass sets the Kyrie in its English translation (StF 784) while John Bell offers a quite different kind of setting (StF 788). Dinah Reindorf’s catchy Kyrie eleison (StF 751), with its gentle jazz inflections, is ideal for use when children are present.
For Ash Wednesday, consider, Jesus, remember me (StF 777), from the Taizé Community, or John Bell’s Take, oh take me as I am (StF 781). (Remember you can check out the tunes of all these settings, as well as all StF’s hymns, just by going to the hymn post on this site.)
Is this also the moment to return to what was once a popular hymn, epscially when celebrating communion: Patrick Appleford’s Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us (StF 594)?
you are one with us, Mary’s Son;
cleansing our souls from all their sin,
pouring your love and goodness in;
Jesus, our love for you we sing,
Ruth Duck’s Sacred the body God has created (StF 618) reminds us that we are all made in the image of God and so, because of that, our bodies are holy. So are our differences from each other. She paints a picture of love in action that echoes the example of Jesus as he makes his way towards Jerusalem and his trial before Herod and Pilate: “Love touches gently, never coercing. / Love leaves the other with power to choose.”
Ruth concludes with a prayer: “Holy of holies, God ever loving, / make us your temples; indwell all we do.” The text is set to a lovely lilting melody by W. Daniel Landes, particularly suitable for a guitar or keyboard led accompaniment.
Advent in Lent
Perhaps surprisingly, it is worth exploring the Advent section of Singing the Faith (StF 165 – 189), for here themes are explored that also have their place in Lent. Take, for example, Jan Berry’s Praise to the God who clears the way (StF 183). Here is a text that echoes the commands of John the Baptist and the Hebrew prophets but with words that describe well Jesus’ mission and – as his disciples – ours too. If Lent, like Advent, is a time of getting ourselves ready for God, then God shows us clearly how to go about the task:
Praise to the God who clears the way
preparing room and space;
for power and pride will lose their sway
as peace comes in their place.
Within the context of Lent, our task is seemingly transformed in verse 3 into a hymn of Easter hope : “Praise to the God who waits with us / for hope and joy to reign”.
If you want to look further afield, try the excellent Wild Goose publication The Courage to Say No: 23 songs for Lent and Easter (also available on CD). Included here is a song that, like Joy Dine’s God who sets us on a journey for example, takes up the image of Lent as a journey – “Travelling the road to freedom”. There’s also “Love which understands”, with its central idea that, “for Jesus, caring was not just a matter of doing but also a matter of preparing through prayer and reflection”:
Oh Jesus Christ, in human flesh
you practised heaven’s care,
besieged by need, betrayed by greed,
sustained by faith and prayer.”
This essay by a church music student in The United Methodist Reporter offers a short account of the meaning of Lent, focussing on Brian Wren’s Ash Wednesday hymn: “Dust and ashes touch our face, / mark our failure and our falling.”