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Lent 1B

You can find a YouTube playlist here with many of the songs suggested below.


Forty days and forty nights (CH 337 / MP 160) would be very appropriate to mark the first Sunday of Lent, particularly for those who weren’t at an Ash Wednesday service, and it relates to the Gospel. There is also a version in contemporary language from Jubilate. Jesus, lover of my soul (CH 490 / MP 372) would be another option to set the tone for the season. Another way to begin the service would be to focus on God’s covenant in the Old Testament with songs like Great is thy faithfulness (CH 153 / MP 200) and Every promise (CCLI / Getty) which speak of God’s promise and pardon for our sin. Shout to the Lord (MP 1003 / CCLI) or Let his praise be on our lips (Satellite) could be other more general options here.

For congregations who don’t sing a full setting of the mass every week, one good way to distinguish Lent as a season is to sing a Kyrie as a response to the prayer of confession. This may be unfamiliar liturgically in some traditions but fits the readings well as Psalm 51 sets the tone for the season. CH4 offers three contrasting options which are all easy to pick up with James MacMillan’s Lord, have mercy (CH 648), the Ukranian Orthodox Kyrie eleison (CH 776) and John Bell’s call and response Kyrie eleison (CH 777). This is also a great chance to learn a song from other parts of the world and Khudaayaa, raeham kar (WGRG / PFAS 51G) Ya Tuhanke (WGRG) are from Pakistan and Indonesia, places we rarely sing songs from. Both can be sung in English but try to imitate the slides on the recording of the first which is an important part of the style. Kyrie eleison, have mercy (MP 1321 / Townend) is more suited to worship bands and can be used either just as a chorus or else the verses can help set the context while Lord have mercy (Resound) would suit a variety of instrumentations. Create in me a clean heart O God (PFAS 51F) isn’t a Kyrie but is also from Psalm 51 and could also be an appropriate response to prayers of confession and Hear the song of our lament (Resound) would be an interesting song to use if you wanted to intentionally bring a whole of creation perspective.


There are not many options for this psalm but the Scottish Psalter gives us a very useful text with Lord, teach me all your ways (CH 21) and Garelochside is a wonderful tune for this. Even if you don’t include a psalm every week this text would be appropriate for singing before the reading of scripture. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul (GIA) is another possibility also set to the classic Scottish psalm tune Martyrdom. The lyrics of I lift my soul to you, O God (WGRG) make it worth considering but the tune is perhaps not the most intuitive to pick up so may be best sung by a soloist. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul (PFAS 25A / GIA) would be a good option for singing the psalm responsorially.


In years A and C we spend the first Sunday of Lent in the wilderness with Jesus. However, Mark only briefly mentions this and instead we quickly move through three different stories - Jesus’ baptism, his time in the wilderness, and the start of his ministry in Galilee. Mark how the Lamb of God, self-offering (CH 629) and Holy water (CCLI) both tie these together and link to the Epistle by relating them to our own baptism. Other songs which focus on baptism for either the Gospel or Epistle are Out of the flowing river (CH 335), The sinless one to Jordan came (NEH 58) and Were I the perfect child of God (WGRG). If you want to look at Jesus in the wilderness then you could use either Jesus in the desert (Jubilate) or the slightly folky You lead us through the wilderness (Resound) while When peace like a river (Hymnary / CCLI) could also link through verse 2 “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come”. The Old Testament focus is more on God’s covenant than on the wider story of Noah and O love that wilt not let me go (CH 557) would link this to Lenten themes, particularly with the line “I trace the rainbow through the rain”.


Either Throughout these Lenten days and nights (Hymnary) or Lord, who throughout these forty days (Hymnary) would explicitly send you on the way for the forty days of Lent ahead. Jesus, tempted in the desert (CH 338) would link to the Gospel and how Jesus can help us in our own temptations while What a friend we have in Jesus (CH 547 / MP 746), And can it be that I should gain (CH 396 / MP 33) and I stand amazed in the presence (MP 296 / Hymnary) or it’s contemporary version I stand amazed (How marvellous) (CCLI) do this with more general Lenten themes.

If you have focused on the baptism story in the Gospel or on the Epistle then you might finish with O love, how deep, how broad, how high (CH 354), When Jesus came to Jordan (Hymnary), or We know that Christ is raised and dies no more (CH 635). The final verse of the Gospel also offers a way to send people out with Jesus’ proclamation suggesting songs of liberation such as Sent by the Lord am I (CH 250) and El mensaje que hoy proclamamos / Hear the message we now are proclaiming (H 46). Or else you could finish with the hope from God’s promise to Noah with songs such as All my hope on God is founded (CH 192 / MP 16) or Cornerstone (CCLI).

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