Hymns for Lent

I’ve found that Lent has comparatively few hymns for such a lengthy season. In the past I’ve posted drafts of several new ones of my own attempting, and I thought I might gather the links here in case anyone is looking for something different.

From time to time I try on a minor revision, and any comments are welcome below. (You won’t be able to leave a comment on the original posts, as I close comments after 30 days.)

Desert song: hymning the temptation

With Lent just about to arrive, it’s time to offer a retrieval from a past blog. Here is a hymn on the theme of the temptations of Christ. The tune I had in mind when I wrote it was Picardy. But I was seriously flattered when Kathryn Rose (@artsyhonker) wrote a tune for it: her recording of Harringey is here.

Just in case you’re still struggling to find hymns (and indeed ideas) for Lent this year: here is a slightly edited version of my earlier work. A couple of months back I also had the experience of reading it aloud as a poem, during a time of reflection in the Judaean desert (pictured), which helped me rethink my own words, as well as reaffirming my hope that there’s some helpful theology in it.

From the Jordan to the desert,
from the crowd to barren place,
Spirit-driven, devil-tempted,
Lord, you sought the Father’s grace
show us now your pow’r, in weakness,
presence in the empty space.

Out of Egypt with God’s people,
freedom brings its testing stress:
what is right and what is truthful,
how the name of God confess?
Jesus, lead us on our journey,
guide us through the wilderness.

Lack of food for empty stomach,
offered only cold hard stone;
scripture used to tempt and strengthen;
easy route to grasp the throne:
Bread of life, and Word incarnate
help us worship God alone.

In the search for loving justice,
in the quest for truth and right,
Jesus walk beside, before us,
hold your Cross of love in sight;
keep us in your Father’s presence,
guide us to your risen light.

Creative Commons License(This hymn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence, so you can use it freely in your liturgy and worship)

St Augustine’s Hymn

There are a limited number of hymns suitable for Lent. The other day I posted a metrical version of Psalm 51. Some months back I reposted an earlier hymn, based on the temptation narratives, with a link to Kathryn Rose’s fine new tune written especially for it.

Here’s another (appropriate to, but not just for Lent) which I once published on another blog. It’s based on a famous prayer section from St Augustine’s Confessions (X.xxvii). The  tune I had in mind when writing was Gerontius.

Late have I loved you, O my Lord,
before whom beauty pales,
whose glory shines in Christ the Word,
whose splendour never fails.

I searched for you in all you made,
in all my eye discerned.
I failed to look within, afraid
to know what passion burned.

You walked with me unseen, unloved,
I trod as one alone,
I seized your gifts, though my use proved
the Giver was unknown.

Yet still you called, to me you spoke
your powerful words of love,
and my long-practiced deafness broke
by thunder from above.

Your flashing lightning cleared my sight,
your storm winds conquered me,
and now I see love shining bright,
I breathe air pure and free.

Your love, your life, is now my meat,
I hunger still for more;
your breath of life is true and sweet,
your touch of peace is sure.

Late though I loved you, O my Lord,
beauty both new and old,
now my heart welcomes Christ the Word,
my priceless pearl, my gold.

Creative Commons License(This hymn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence, so you can use it freely in your liturgy and worship)

Have mercy, Lord: a psalm for Ash Wednesday

I thought I would offer this metrical version of Psalm 51, both as a meditation for the day, and for those who want to use it in Lent. I had in mind the Passion Chorale as the tune, when writing it. No doubt I shall continue to develop this draft further, but I think it’s usable as is.

Have mercy, Lord, have mercy,
in your abundant love,
and from my sin now cleanse me,
my trespasses remove.
My shame is overpowering,
it will not let me go:
great wrath above is towering,
your sentence to bestow.

From birth have I offended,
and long been mired in sin,
yet you my heart have tended,
and sought a way within.
O cleanse my inner being,
and wash away my shame,
that I no longer fleeing
may glorify your name.

Look not on my transgression,
but take away my sin,
acknowledge my confession,
and give me life within.
Create in me a clean heart,
your spirit now renew,
your saving joy be my part,
my life be one with you.

Contrition my oblation,
and tears my sacrifice,
no ritual immolation,
for love has paid the price.
O God of my salvation,
open my lips and raise
the song of new creation,
restored in grace for praise.

Creative Commons License(This psalm is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence, so you can use it freely in your liturgy and worship)