• Iain McLarty

Lent 3B

Exodus 20:1-17

Psalm 19

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 2:13-22


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



Gathering


The psalm is a good starting point today with the wonders we see in the sky above us calling us to recognise the glory of God throughout the day and the night. There are some wonderful older hymns which are rooted in these themes such as The spacious firmament on high (CH 148), Awake my soul and with the sun (CH 210 / MP 804) and Jesus shall reign where’er the sun (CH 470 / MP 379). More contemporary options include Indescribable (MP 1170 / CCLI) and God of dawn, each day’s renewal (Hymnary / Hope) which can be sung to Abbot’s Leigh. Let everything that has breath (MP 1001 / CCLI) and From life’s beginning (Let praise resound) (Resound) would more generally pick up the theme of praising God the creator.


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.



Word


The stars declare his glory (CH 10) is a great example of reimagining a psalm in contemporary language while The heavens tell Your glory (Grace) is another option for a metrical version. God’s glory fills the heavens (PFAS 19B) is an arrangement of the music from Haydn’s “The heavens are telling the glory of God” to make it singable as a hymn tune. This is probably not something you would learn from scratch but would be brilliant for a congregation where a lot of people were familiar with the original. Nature shines with beauty (Resound) connects this psalm with other scripture passages about creation and also ties in with Lenten themes in the chorus (“formed us from the dust”).


It’s worth noting that Psalm 19 ends with a verse that is often spoken before a sermon and you could consider a sung version of this such as May the words of my mouth (WGRG), May the words of my mouth (CCLI) or Psalm 19 (CCLI)



Response


I have brought you out of Egypt (link) gives an opportunity to sing the Ten Commandments to either Nettleton or Beach Spring. This is something we often do with other core formational texts from Scripture and which was common after the Reformation but which has fallen out of practice. Rather than singing the scripture passage you could respond with words from the psalms which celebrate God’s law such as How blest are those who do not stray (CH 1), When God speaks (Satellite), or the beautiful Thai song Happy are they who walk in God’s wise way (PFAS 1C). I will set my bow in the clouds (Hope) links together a number of Old Testament stories from Lent in year B.


Take up your cross (CH 402 / MP 935) would work well as a personal response to the Epistle as it picks up the themes of weakness and foolishness. There are many other songs about the cross which you could use but The power of the cross (MP 1217 / CCLI / Getty) and In the cross of Christ I glory (CH 397 / MP 338) are perhaps the most relevant for this passage.


The few songs which directly reference the Gospel reading are interesting in that they talk about Jesus’ anger, something we don’t sing about often. Love inspired the anger (STF 253) looks at this story along with others that are about structural inequality while Jesus Christ is waiting (CH 360) speaks of Jesus “raging”. Set to the same tune as the latter, Now the green blade riseth (CH 417) would link to the later verses in this passage where Jesus speaks about being raised in three days while still being appropriate for the tone of Lent.



Sending


Using Eternal God, this earth is charged with grandeur (CCLI) as a closing song would give a nice liturgical arc as it moves us from God’s love expressed through the endless splendour of the stars in the sky to seeing it expressed through Jesus on Calvary. It’s written to be sung to How great thou art (CH 154 / MP 506) which has a similar narrative, as does Creation sings the Father's song (MP 1268 / CCLI / Getty), although it may have too many alleluias for some during Lent. You could also use songs which are more focused on the meaning of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection such as Worthy is the lamb (MP 1109 / CCLI) or How great is your love (CCLI). Meekness and majesty (CH 356 / MP 465) could be a link to the Epistle and the message that God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

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