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Lent 3C

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


Psalm 63 and Isaiah set a great theme for opening worship during Lent, with the psalm inviting songs of praise to God from people whose souls thirst for God as if in a desert - while Isaiah is an invitation to all who thirst. My soul is thirsting / As morning breaks (OCP / MV 109) is a catchy song which picks up both of these themes and is best led with the congregation singing the chorus and a soloist taking the verses. Other songs which would pick up the thirsting theme include All who are thirsty (MP 1025 / CCLI) and I heard the voice of Jesus say (CH 540 / MP 275). You can also use more general morning songs such as Morning has broken (CH 212 / MP 467), Today I awake (CH 211), 10,000 reasons (Bless the Lord) (CCLI / MP 1259) and One church, one voice (Satellite).

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.


O God, you are my God alone (CH 43) is a wonderful option for today’s psalm, with a combination of a soaring folk melody and an excellent contemporary paraphrase. God of kindness and compassion (GIA) is also set to an existing tune but probably one that is unfamiliar to most and something like Holy Manna has a similar feel. O God, you are my God, I seek you (Jubilate) is a more reflective alternative with a lovely structure to the text. The mixed meter tune is slightly more challenging to learn but it’s short enough that it can be picked up after a few verses. My soul is thirsting / As morning breaks (OCP / MV 109) was mentioned above and is well worth adding to the repertoire for bands but can also be led on solo guitar or piano. O God, you are my God (Common) is an interesting attempt to write a responsorial psalm in the style of a worship song and this again makes is quite accessible as the congregation just need to sing the chorus.


The theme of repentance in the Gospel is perhaps better represented in Victorian hymnody than the present day repertoire, but you could use a song such as Amazing grace (CH 555 / MP 31) or it’s popular Chris Tomlin version Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) (MP 1151 / CCLI) given the story of John Newton’s repentance which led to him writing it. In Christ alone (MP 1072 / CCLI / Getty), Your grace is enough (MP 1383 / CCLI) and Yet not I but through Christ in me (CCLI) could also focus more broadly on our response to the call to repent. It’s a challenge to find songs about the parable of the barren fig tree but you could consider When the Fig Tree Fails to Blossom (GIA) and Though the Fig Tree Does Not Blossom (GIA) which are based on Habakkuk 3.

Some of the songs for the Gospel would also be appropriate for the Epistle with a focus on God being faithful through our testing. Short songs such as Stand O stand firm (WGRG) or Goodness is stronger than evil (WGRG) would also link while My life flows on in endless song (How can I keep from singing) (CH 565) could tie in, particularly with the chorus focusing on Christ as the rock we cling to. The classic hymn My hope is built on nothing less (Hymnary) also has a similar focus as do two great reworkings of it - the Kenyan song Kwake yesu nasimama (GSW 34 / GIA) and the popular worship song Cornerstone (CCLI).

All who are thirsty, come to the Lord (Jubilate / Hymnary) is based around the Old Testament reading while some of the songs suggested for gathering would also link well to the it, particularly All who are thirsty (MP 1025 / CCLI) and I heard the voice of Jesus say (CH 540 / MP 275). Other songs to consider are As the deer pants (CH 550), the classic setting of Psalm 42 and the short chant Let all who are thirsty come (Taizé).


A theme which would be appropriate for finishing after all the readings today is declaring our faith in a God who is faithful and in Christ our redeemer. You could use some songs already suggested above such as In Christ alone (MP 1072 / CCLI / Getty) and Cornerstone (CCLI) while All my hope on God is founded (CH 192 / MP 16) and Guide me, O thou great Jehovah (CH 167 / MP 201) are some classic hymns which could work, with the latter particularly appropriate during Lent.

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