Sunday, March 20, 2011

Songs in a Slow Season, or Why I Love Lenten Hymns

I received a message today from a source who shall remain nameless asking, "Why are there no good Lenten hymns?"

Aside from the fact that I was greatly anticipating singing Fanny Crosby's "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross", I also took umbrage on behalf of Lenten hymns in general. Greatly maligned in moderns times, I often hear, "It's better than what we sing in Lent," with regard to some hymn that has yet to reach popular heights.

I like the Lenten hymns and their deeply resonant lyrics. What else reaches the lyrical heights of "In the Cross of Christ I Glory": "When the woes of life o'er take me, hopes deceive and fears annoy, never shall the cross forsake me; lo, it glows with peace and joy."? Can you honestly say you feel nothing when you sing, "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me"?

I realized today that I think I prefer the Lenten hymns to the Advent ones. In Advent, we sing about a hope that is still to be fulfilled, the return of Christ, even as we celebrate with joy the first coming of Jesus. In Lent, though, we sing of our struggles with faith, with sacrifice, with grief and loss.

If you don't like singing, that's a different issue. However, I'm a little bit of a hymn fanatic. My life flows on in endless song and I hold to the faith we sing. For me, the Lenten hymns express the depth of that faith in a way that is unique and special.

I may have to use this season to showcase a few of my favorite Lenten hymns. (If I knew how to make a bracket, I'd take nominations and we could have a little tournament.)

First up, "Come, Ye Disconsolate". This is my number 1 seed Lenten song (and one of my 4 funeral selections).

The lyrics are below and I've included two VERY different arrangements of the song for your listening enjoyment.

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,

Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.

Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;

Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,

Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!

Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,

“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.”

Here see the Bread of Life, see waters flowing

Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.

Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing

Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We're singing "Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley" every week in Lent. (On purpose.) The idea that he was really here--that's what I want to get across. How it went and how it ended (and began).