The verses from today’s Psalm are a call for us to worship God who rules over all things. You can build on this with songs such as In the presence of your people (CH 121 / MP 341), The Lord is King lift up your voice (CH 129) and Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim (CH 130 / MP 784). Psalm 22 (This is the story I will tell) (CCLI) would work well as a gathering song, although it wouldn’t suit congregations who avoid singing Hallelujahs during Lent. Come now is the time to worship (CH 196 / MP 1040) is quite a generic option but can also link to the Gospel with the line “for those who gladly choose you now”. After Noah last week we again have God making a covenant with a major Old Testament figure. The God of Abraham praise (CH 162 / MP 645) or Waiting here for you (CCLI) could set up a focus on this story.
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.
While the well known opening verses of Psalm 22 are a lament, vv.22-31 are a hymn of praise so it’s important to look for songs based on these verses. Two of the songs suggested above could both be used, either In the Presence of Your People (CH 121 / MP 341) or Psalm 22 (This is the story I will tell) (CCLI). You could also use the last six verses of Psalm 22 (CCLI / PCE) sung to Picardy. All earth to Him shall homage bring (Grace) could work for a band in a folky style with the harmony in the verses quite typical of Scottish folk music. It’s chorus could also work to sing the psalm responsorially, as would All the ends of the earth (PFAS 22D).
There aren’t many songs which directly reference the story of Abraham but there are two from a recent Wild Goose publication of new words to well known tunes. There is a line of women (WGRG) puts Sarah in the context of lots of the women who shaped the stories of our faith, while God it was (WGRG) looks at stories of God calling people, beginning with Abraham and Sarah. Songs which link to the themes of the Epistle could also be more general responses to the Old Testament. By faith (MP 1262 / CCLI / Getty) looks at the place of faith throughout history up to the present day while Cornerstone (CCLI) is a more personal response. You could also use a credal statement as a response with some interesting options such as the contemporary This I believe (The Creed) (CCLI) and We believe in one God (Unshakeable) (Resound) or We believe: Maranatha (STB) from Asia which is a spoken text with an easy sung response in parts, or If you believe and I believe (CH 771) from Zimbabwe.
The call to take up your cross and follow me in the Gospel has inspired songwriters throughout the generations including well known older hymns such Take up your cross the Saviour said (CH 402 / MP 935) and In the cross of Christ I glory (CH 397 / MP 338) or newer songs such as Jesus you have called us (Resound) and Above the voices of the world around me (MP 5 / Hymnary). The latter has a number of tunes written for it but could also be sung to Londonderry Air. Tree of life and awesome mystery (CH 401) gives a different perspective with a focus on being reborn, while How deep the Father’s love for us (CH 549 / MP 988 / Townend) and I’m not ashamed to own my Lord (CH 645) connect well with the final verse and what it means to be ashamed of Christ.
All of the passages today can lead us to finish by declaring our faith in God and there are some classics which would be very appropriate such as At the name of Jesus (CH 458 / MP 41), Be thou my vision (CH 465 / MP 51) and O Jesus, I have promised (CH 644 / MP 501) while Build my life (CCLI) and In Christ alone (MP 1072 / CCLI / Getty) would be some more contemporary options. There are a couple of songs which specifically tie into the Old Testament such as Promises (CCLI) and To Abraham and Sarah (Hymnary / link). The latter puts us into those generations who follow Abraham and Sarah and would work well as a sending song sung to Thornbury.