Lenten Hymnody, The Windsor Saucepan Of The Liturgical Church Year
But a good cook needs to be balanced and must prepare something other than pastries. Cooks need to know how to cook their duck breast, their tuna steak, as well as the usual cuts of meats, all without overcooking said meat, as so often happens, into inedible and dried out pieces of animal flesh that even raccoons wouldn’t pull out of trash can.
Now, the thing that separates the wannabe cooks from the good cooks are the sauces necessary to compliment the meat and for that matter the entire dinner. There really too many variations of sauces to go into here with this post so I’d like to just look at the most important tools for creating a great sauce, the Windsor saucepan.
The Windsor saucepan is a slanted or flare sided pan that allows for efficient reduction, due to the large surface area of the sauce, though evaporation. If you need a sauce reduced, this is your pan! The slanted sides make for easy whisking over medium to medium high heat for even the most delicate French sauce. While not an absolute necessity for cooking, the Windsor saucepan is a valuable tool for slack jawed yokels who think they can cook and true cooking connoisseurs alike.
But what does this have to do with the usual topic? It’s simple, Lenten hymnody is the Windsor saucepan of the historical Church year. Like the Windsor saucepan, Lenten hymns have a way of reducing hymnody to it’s consummate essence, the cross.
Lent is a time of the liturgical church year for penitential reflection. As Christ turns his face towards Jerusalem to complete His ministry and atone for mankind’s sinful nature, we journey with him. As we look to the cross we are reminded that it is us who deserve to be nailed to that cursed tree. As we look to the cross we see God’s entire wrath poured out upon the only person that did not deserve it. We look at the cross and we see mercy undeserved as our Lord offers himself up as the atoning sacrifice.
Good Lenten hymnody allows us to sing our confession of the suffering servant journeying on the way to His cross to finish his salvific work on earth. Let’s look at a few verses of some favorite Lenten hymns;
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.
As well as;
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
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!
Like a Windsor saucepan, Lenten hymnody reduces our songs to rich and bold confessions of the faithful elect. Through these sung confessions we journey through the pericopes of Scripture with our Lord to the blessed cross on Golgotha. Through the Lenten hymnody we sing joyfully and repeat back to the Lord the very words inspired by the Holy Spirit in God’s word.
Is it any wonder why Lent is one of my favorite times of the year?