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Lent 4A / Mothering Sunday

This is Mothering Sunday and so as well as suggestions related to the lectionary there are also seasonal suggestions. You may also wish to consider intentionally choosing songs written by women (either the words, lyrics or translation) and these suggestions are marked with an asterisk.

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


With a strong theme of light in the readings you could begin with thinking about the morning light with songs such as Here in this place new light is streaming / Gather us in (CH 623), Jesus shall reign where’er the sun (CH 470 / MP 379), *Creation sings the Father's song (MP 1268 / CCLI) or *Bright morning maker as your sun breaks through (CCLI) which can be sung to Engelberg or Sine Nomine.

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.


You can be guaranteed to start a heated debate in the Church of Scotland if you ask what the right tune is for singing Psalm 23. This isn’t even a simple split between congregations as you will find a mix of strongly held views within congregations. The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want, the lyrics for Psalm 23 from the Scottish Psalter, sung to Crimond (CH 14) and Brother James’ Air (CH 16) are probably the most widely known while The Lord’s my shepherd (MP 1008 / PFAS 23F / CCLI / Townend) has become a modern classic. Wiltshire (CH 14) and Orlington (CH 15) are both excellent tunes for these lyrics as well and suit congregations who sing in parts, although it is always confusing that they start with the same four notes.

With so many well known tunes it would be easy not to look at other options but there are lots of wonderful settings in a whole range of styles including His love is my resting place (Kimbrough) which has a light country feel and was written as a response to the pandemic, the Victorian hymn The King of love my shepherd is (CH 462), the well known round The Lord is my shepherd, I’ll walk with him always (Hymnary / PFAS 23K) and a beautiful pentatonic Indonesian song *My shepherd Lord, with flute so true of tone (STB 291). The Lord is my shepherd (CH 17) and Shepherd me, O God (PFAS 23H / GIA) are both lovely responsorial settings if you have a choir or soloist to sing the verses, although you could also use the sung responses with spoken verses.


Songs to consider on a Mothering Sunday theme include Mothers of faith (Gordon) which celebrates the women who have been formative in our faith journeys while We gladly celebrate and praise (STF 120) praises God for the gift of motherhood but is also sensitive to different family situations such as mothers who have lost a child or children who have never known their mother. God of Eve and God of Mary (Hope / STF 119) has a range of Christian images of motherhood ranging from Eve and Mary to mother-earth and the Church, our Mother, and could be sung to a tune such as Stuttgart. *O God of truth and glory (link) sung to Aurelia and There is a line of women (WGRG) sung to the Seven joys of Mary both look at the important roles played by women in the Bible. There are also songs which use a variety of images for God including feminine ones such as Bring many names (CH 134) and *Mothering God, you gave me birth (CH 117) which is based on a text by Julian of Norwich.

When Jesus the healer (CH 350) is a lively song which looks at many different stories of healing in the Gospels while Jesus Christ is waiting (CH 360) has verses about different aspects of Jesus’ ministry including one about healing. *Lord of life, we come to you (CH 782), O Christ the healer we have come (CH 717) and We cannot measure how you heal (CH 718) turn the focus onto our prayers for healing in ourselves and people we know. Worship songs speaking about healing was a bit of a gap but some more recent ones have focused more on this including Miracles (CCLI), *God with us (CCLI) and Impossible things (CCLI).

The Epistle links to the Gospel with the theme of light and there are songs in a range of styles which can pick this up including hymns such as Christ is the world’s true light (CH 456), Praise the One who breaks the darkness (CH 348) and *Christ be our light (CH 543 / MP 1201), worship songs such as You are the light (CCLI) and Great are you Lord (CCLI) and short chants such as Christe, lux mundi (Taizé) and Jésus le Christ (Taizé).

There are no songs I can find about the anointing of David but you could link to v7 and God seeing our heart with songs like Praise, I will praise you, Lord / Je louerai l’Éternel (CH 175) or Here for you (CCLI) while you could think about responding to God calling unexpected people with *Take my life, Lord, let it be (CH 502 / MP 624) or Take this moment (CH 501).


Siyahamba / We are marching in the light of God (CH 516 / MP 954) is always a great sending song and would link to the theme of light, as would *Christ be our light (CH 543 / MP 1201), This little light of mine (Hymnary) and Running to the light (CCLI).

If you want to finish with a focus on Mothering Sunday then you could consider Tell out my soul (CH 286 / MP 631) which is of course a setting of the Magnificat, the song of Mary, which shows us God working through a mother. *God of the women (link) sung to Slane would be a good sending song for recognising the various ministries that God calls women to. *Now thank we all our God (CH 182 / MP 486) is always a good general song to finish with but can link today with the the line "who from our mothers' arms has blessed us on our way". You can avoid unnecessary gendered language by changing v1 line 4 to “in whom this world” and v2 line 5 to “and keep us strong in grace”.

I don’t normally include a suggestion for a sung benediction but *May the Lord bless you (Satellite) is a wonderful song to consider for this which is becoming extremely popular.

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