Lenten Hymn Themes

This is a post that I wrote last Lent. But I thought it was worth thinking about again. I had also promised to write another post and I never got around to it. This year I’ll make sure to do that.


Christian_worship_colorThis evening I was singing to the kids before bed–just going through the hymnal singing various Lenten hymns. I was reminded of something I had noticed some time ago, but forgot about. I noticed a couple
themes that keep repeating themselves in Lutheran Lenten hymns. Both of them are unique to the Lenten season (at least among Lutheran hymns).

The first theme is the idea that our sin caused Jesus’ suffering and death. This probably sounds terribly obvious for Lent, but it needs to be said. Here are a few examples:

[The second stanza of "Jesus, I Will Ponder Now" points out that Jesus died for those who put him to death.]
Yet, O Lord, not thus not thus alone
Make me see your passion,
But its cause to me make known
And its termination.
Ah! I also and my sin
Wrought your deep affliction;
This indeed the cause has been
Of your crucifixion. (CW 98 st. 3)

Of course, the next stanza reminds us that when our sin troubles us, we remember that the cross is what disarms our fear. Some more examples:

A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,
Our guilt and evil bearing
And laden with the sins of earth
None else the burden sharing. (CW 100 st. 1)

My burden in your passion,
Lord, you have borne for me,
For it was my transgression,
My shame, on Calvary. (CW 105 st.4)

’Tis I who should be smitten,
My doom should here be written:
Bound hand and foot in hell.
The fetters and the scourging,
the floods around you surging,
’Tis I who have deserved them well. (CW 113 st.3)

Whence come these sorrows, whence this 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 (CW 117 st.3)

Do you see what I mean? We caused it, and knowing this brings us great sorrow. But what joy to know that he did it for us. And that joy–even during Lent–always brings a response. That is the 2nd theme I noticed. I’ll write about that theme in another post.

Can you think of other hymn stanzas that make this point? Leave them in a comment.

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