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Thursday, April 13, 2006 

Lenten Hymns

Boy, I’m going to miss Lent. I say this every single year. And I mean it, every single year after year after year. Lent is really my favorite time of the Church year.

One of the reasons is that we seem to sing more of my favorite hymns during Lent. Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed by Isaac Watts and O Dearest Jesus, What Law Have You Broken by Johann Heermann are two hymns I could sing throughout the year over and over. And if there is a better hymn to sing during Lent than Paul Gerhard’s translation of Bernard of Clairvaux’s O Sacred Head Now Wounded, then I’m just not aware of it.

The reason I love these hymns so much is that they are confessional. By confessional I mean that these hymns repeat back the very Scripture that God gives to feed us. And by confessing God’s Word, the hymns become the proclamation of God’s Word. During the season of Lent we focus on our Lord as he turns His face towards Jerusalem to complete His ministry. Our Lenten hymnody reflects these portions of Scripture. Put to music are the very doctrines and teachings of the Church catholic for us to sing.

This is not to say that there is any lack of good hymnody throughout the rest of the Church year. It’s just that I appreciate the Lenten hymns a little more.

Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed by Isaac Watts
1.Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?
2. Was it for crimes that I have done, he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died for his own creature's sin.
4. Thus might I hide my blushing face while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.
5. But drops of tears can ne'er repay the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away; 'tis all that I can do.

O Dearest Jesus, What Law Have You Broken by Johann Heermann
1.O dearest Jesus, what law have you broken
That such sharp sentence should on you be spoken?
Of what great crime have you to make confession,
What dark transgression?
2.They crown your head with thorns, they smite, they scourge you;
With cruel mockings to the cross they urge you;
The give you gall to drink, they still decry you;
They crucify you.
3.What is the source of all your mortal anguish?
It is my sins for which you, Lord, must languish;
Yes, all the wrath, the woe that you inherit,
This I do merit.
4.How strange is this great paradox to ponder:
The shepherd dies for sheep who love to wander;
The master pays the debt his servants owe him,
Who would not know him.
5.The sinless Son of God must die in sadness;
The sinful child of man may live in gladness;
We forfeited our lives yet are acquitted;
God is committed!
6.O wondrous love, whose depth no heart has sounded,
That brought you here, by foes and thieves surrounded,
Conquer my heart, make love its sole endeavor
Henceforth forever!
7.When, dearest Jesus, at your throne in heaven
To me the crown of joy at last is given,
Where sweetest hymns your saints forever raise you,
I too shall praise you!


You forgot to put the lyrics for O Sacred Head Now Wounded in your post.

I agree with this post! Especially concerning O Sacred Head. But if you do post the words, please don't pull the LW error and post only a few that you have chosen, but all the verses.

Poor Miserable Sinner, At my church we normally use the TLH version. I've never really thought to even look at the LW setting. I'll look that up when I get home tonight. Thanks for the comments!

I thought the same thing approaching the Easter Vigil: How I'll miss the music of Lent! I don't think I scratched the surface of Lenten hymns.
Smitten, Stricken, and Afflicted.
The Lamb.
A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth.
Your Heart, O God, Is Grieved.
Savior When in Dust to You.
etc etc etc

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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