Anglican, Holy WEek, hymns, Musical Culture, Uncategorized
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Holy Week Hymns (Or, When Nothing Else Gets Through)

If you, like me, are struggling with what it means to observe Holy Week as a parent, if you have little time to meditate in silence and find most of your observances to be hijacked by whiny toddlers, I was reminded today of the power God has given to music to reach and shape our souls (even when we are annoyed with our kids and foundering in Holy Week intentions). We sang the following two hymns during our Spy Wednesday service today and both managed to get through to my not-particularly-soft heart.

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

And then, we ended with “Ah, Holy Jesus.”

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
that we to judge thee have in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted!

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered.
For our atonement, while we nothing heeded,
God interceded.

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
for my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
not my deserving.

More Musical Resources:

Even if we are struggling to find time or energy, with the blessings of recorded music available online today, we can change the atmosphere of our homes (and cars) by putting on music for Holy Week. Here are some good resources:

  • Genie from Barefoot Abbey has put together a Holy Week Playlist 
  • Last year, we interviewed Baroque violinist Fiona Hughes on Bach’s Passion Cantatas
  • I’ve been listening to Stile Antico’s Passion and Resurrection: Music Inspired by Holy Week — beautiful recordings of Renaissance polyphony, focusing in on two versions of the medieval carol “Woefully Arrayed” (Find it here on Amazon)

(Meanwhile, while driving home from our service today, my 3 year old asked if I could sing “Gravy a’ Lord.” Confused, I asked her to sing it for me and she robustly responded, “Up from the gravy a’ Lord! With a mighty triumph o’er his foes.” These little ones give us so many opportunities to “Learn of Jesus Christ to die,” but also, the example of such great rejoicing. If my Holy Week expectations cannot include dying to myself in the midst of whining and tears, then I’ve gotten it all a bit wrong.)

What music do you listen to during Holy Week?

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