Easter Triumph! Easter Joy!

For the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of being the organist for the Nashotah House Theological Seminary Easter Vigil, as I served as associate organist there while my husband was a student, and we live near enough for me to continue to participate even now. This year, when I was invited, though I really REALLY wanted to play, we decided that we would instead attend an Easter Vigil where we could sit together as a family.  (Scott is beginning a new job as Rector of Trinity Church in Baraboo, WI in June, and we are eager to participate in their historic Easter Vigil once we start there. More on that in a future post!)

So we all piled into the van last night – all SIX of us, from 7 months on up – and drove about an hour to downtown Milwaukee to the Episcopal Cathedral of All Saints.  Getting there on time, with babies fed, children pottied, and all coloring books/reading material in place was no small task. But we did it. It’s a 2-hour service – and this was a shortened one! – so we settled in. 


And oh. my. word.


I am so glad that we did!


(and the kids did great. that helped!!)


The Easter Vigil is, without a doubt, my most favorite service of the church year – the holiest night – the night when the drama that is Eucharistic worship comes to a passionate climax. We begin with the lighting of the New Fire outside — the church is mostly dark as dusk has fallen… the sound and smell of the fire are distinct in the chilly [ok. COLD. it was like 37 degrees] spring air… from that fire, after prayer, the new Paschal Candle for the year is lit and slowly processed into the church, as the deacon sings “The Light of Christ” and the congregation replies “thanks be to God”. We all have candles, and the light from the Paschal Candle is shared with the room, one candle at a time. 


It is in this hushed light that the Deacon then comes to the front of the room and sings the Exsultet – pretty much the reason to go to a vigil. It kicks into high Theological gear at the bold section near the end – the part where the goosebumps start for me:

Then the Deacon, or other person appointed, standing near the Candle,
sings or says the Exsultet, as follows 

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, 


and let your trumpets shout Salvation 
for the victory of our mighty King.

Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, 
bright with a glorious splendor, 
for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.

Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, 
and let your holy courts, in radiant light, 
resound with the praises of your people.

   All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, 
   pray with me to God the Almighty 
   for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; 
   through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
   who lives and reigns with him, 
   in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
   one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

              The Lord be with you. 
Answer      And also with you. 
Deacon      Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. 
Answer      It is right to give him thanks and praise.


It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our

whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible,

almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who
at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin,
and by his blood delivered your faithful people.

This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children
of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the
Red Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered
from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness
of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, 
and rose victorious from the grave.

   How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your
   mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you
   gave a Son.

   How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and
   sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy
   to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings
   peace and concord.

   How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined
   and man is reconciled to God.

Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this
candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away
all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no
setting, find it ever burning–he who gives his light to all
creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. 


Keep in mind that this is one deacon, singing unaccompanied, the most glorious
chant melody – oh man. It’s fabulous.


Salvation history is recounted through the reading of God’s holy acts in the OT – from creation to the flood, to a new heart, a sea parted – it’s amazing. Then the celebrant – the priest leading the service – stands in the still-darkened room and sings:

Alleluia, Christ is Risen

and we reply

The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.

At that point, Lent is over and we begin the official par-tay.


Like you, I have several hymns that say EASTER to me – Jesus Christ is Risen Today, The Strife is O’er,
Low in the Grave He Lay – but since becoming a worshipper at an Episcopal church, this is the hymn that screams ALLEUIA to me – without even saying the word.  For the festal victory is now assured – Christ the victim is now Christ the priest – we are ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven because Christ, the living Manna from above, has won the complete victory over sin and death.

Death’s sting?? GONE.

Grave’s victory?? GONE.

So even at the grave we can make our song –




At The Lamb’s High Feast We Sing

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
praise to our victorious King,
who hath washed us in the tide
flowing from his pierced side;
praise we him, whose love divine
gives his sacred Blood for wine,
gives his Body for the feast,
Christ the victim, Christ the priest.

Where the Paschal blood is poured,
death’s dark angel sheathes his sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go
through the wave that drowns the foe.
Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed,
Paschal victim, Paschal bread;
with sincerity and love
eat we manna from above.

Mighty victim from on high,
hell’s fierce powers beneath thee lie;
thou hast conquered in the fight,
thou hast brought us life and light:
now no more can death appall,
now no more the grave enthrall;
thou hast opened paradise, 
and in thee thy saints shall rise.

Easter triumph, Easter joy,
These alone do sin destroy;
from sin’s power do thou set free
souls newborn, O Lord, in thee.
Hymns of glory songs of praise,
Risen Lord, to thee we raise;
Holy Father, praise to thee,
with the Spirit, ever be.

Words: Latin, 1632;
trans. Robert Campbell, 1849Music: Salzburg, St. George’s Windsor






Meter: 77 77 D


Good Friday

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

(click play on the player over on the right hand side.)






        1. Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
        See Him dying on the tree!
        'Tis the Christ by man rejected;
        Yes, my soul, 'tis He! 'tis He!
        'Tis the long-expected Prophet,
        David's Son, yet David's Lord;
        By His Son God now has spoken:
        'Tis the true and faithful Word.

        2. Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
        Was there ever grief like His?
        Friends through fear His cause disowning,
        Foes insulting His distress;
        Many hands were raised to wound Him,
        None would interpose to save;
        But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
        Was the stroke that Justice gave.

        3. Ye who think of sin but lightly
        Nor suppose the evil great
        Here may view its nature rightly,
        Here its guilt may estimate.
        Mark the Sacrifice appointed,
        See who bears the awful load;
        'Tis the WORD, the LORD'S ANOINTED,
        Son of Man and Son of God.

        4. Here we have a firm foundation;
        Here the refuge of the lost;
        Christ's the Rock of our salvation,
        His the name of which we boast.
        Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
        Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
        None shall ever be confounded
        Who on Him their hope have built.

Text: Is. 53:3-5 Author: Thomas Kelly, 1804 Tune: "O mein Jesu, ich muss sterben" 1st Published in:_Geistliche Volkslieder_ Town: Paderborn, 1850

A Journey of Devotion – Arrival. Holy Week Begins.

Our Palm Sunday service yesterday was.. well, just like Palm Sunday services from the prayer book pretty much always are… living in the tension of the celebratory (Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! All glory laud and honor to Thee, Redeemer King!!) and the penitent (and the crowd cried ‘Crucify Him’… and he thirsted, and they gave him vinegar… – for at the Palm Sunday service we read the full Passion Narrative – the Gospel account of the crucifixion).

The service begins in joy.

And ends in silence.

Holy Week, I think, is nothing if not a study in contrasts… and an exercise in learning to live into the tension of what was, what is, what will be — and to try, if for a moment, to remove the advantage of hindsight, and of history.


My favorite Palm Sunday hymn is one I grew up with… (I know I’m a day late, here, but I hope it will still help get you started on the right foot this week.) We always sang it to the tune “Ellacombe“. 

Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them close folded to His breast,
The children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.

From Olivet they followed mid an exultant crowd,
The victor palm branch waving, and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of men and angels rode on in lowly state,
Nor scorned that little children should on His bidding wait.

“Hosanna in the highest!” that ancient song we sing,
For Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven our King.
O may we ever praise Him with heart and life and voice,
And in His blissful presence eternally rejoice!

Details and citation here.

It’s a little… oh, cherubic? Childish? Overly sentimental? Yeah, I think so. But the celebratory text is such a perfect paradox with what’s about to happen… that works for me, somehow.. the thought of singing this while the kids are processing with palms.. well, that pretty much sums up the day for me. 


So, the service ends with no blessing, no closing hymn — we enter in celebration, we leave in quiet – and with a prayer that our finite minds can suspend belief for a week so that we can enter the story, see the end from the beginning, and know Christ and the power of sharing in His sufferings. 


It begins.

A Journey of Devotion – A text for where I’m ‘at’ today


When wounded sore the stricken heart
Lies bleeding and unbound,
One only hand, a pierced hand,
Can salve the sinner’s wound.

When sorrow swells the laden breast,
And tears of anguish flow,
One only heart, a broken heart,
Can feel the sinner’s woe.

When penitential grief has wept
Over some foul dark spot,
One only stream, a stream of Blood,
Can wash away the blot.

‘Tis Jesus’ Blood that washes white,
His hand that brings relief;
His heart is touched with all our joys,
And feels for all our grief.

Lift up thy bleeding hand, O Lord,
Unseal that cleansing tide,
We have no shelter from our sin
But in Thy wounded side.

Mrs. C. F. Alexander, only notation I can find right now.


By this time in Lent, I’m usually a mess. It might be less Lenten than seasonal – come ON spring, would you just get here?? – and this year it might coincide with just a major amount of upcoming transition – Scott has taken a new job in Baraboo, WI – more on that later – and a hugely busy March for me – three consecutive weekends away – but somehow I don’t want to miss the fact, too, that it’s still Lent.


There’s a weariness in weeks three and four that will only be assuaged by a Resurrection.


There’s an emptiness as we near holy week that will only be filled as we start the steps of the via dolorosa – the suffering way – and do what we can to know Christ and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.


There’s a fasting-fatigue that catches up with me by this time in the journey… probably the point where I most need to listen, and to surrender. And keep fasting.


There’s a selfishness in me that rears its head long about now when I’m ready to stop sacrificing all my ‘alle**ia’ songs that I had to skip in 4 weeks’ worth of gigs. [BTW, have you ever tried that?? Leading worship for non-lenten-types who aren’t the least bit concerned about a poorly-timed ‘alle**ia’? It was a good challenge – one I met head on, and one in which the Lord led me around to 3-4 new songs (to me) all of which were blissfully alle**ia free. 🙂 ]


Truth be told, though, all of these externals only reveal the internal, which is that I’m at the end of myself, and I’m selfish, and undone, and while I’m ready to celebrate a Resurrection, I also need one. 


I need a new begetting, a beginning and a birth,
I need a visitation from the Holy here on earth..
I need a death of ‘halfway-done’, of my complacencies,
I need a fuller, more-completed ideology….


I have no shelter from my sin but in His wounded side.


There, as in the cleft of the rock, I shall rest. 


Sunday, April 5th is the Sunday of the Triumphal Entry. Palm Sunday.

I will see you then, ready to walk.



A Journey of Devotion – O Sacred Head

I’m posting the YouTube video way up here at the top of the post, so that perhaps you can hit play, and then scroll down and listen to the music w/o necessarily watching the video.

{ok, hit play now, then scroll down and let the song keep playing as you read.}


[ok. scroll down.]









For some reason, I can’t post audio to this account, but I can embed YouTube videos. This particular one uses images from the film The Passion of the Christ, a film which I did not see (quite intentionally) and I don’t want to presume that any of you, either, want to see a filmmaker’s interpretation of Christ’s crucifixion every time Holy Week rolls around. [I have no problem with the fact that this film was made. I’m just a very visual creature, and I know that the images would stay with me forever in a way that might not be helpful].

However, this particular video has Fernando Ortega‘s recording of our hymn for today, and it was worth it to me to risk posting these images in order for you to hear his song.


Phwew. That was a really long disclaimer.


The Lenten way continues its forward journey toward Palm Sunday… then Passion week – step by step, the Lord’s love on display – and the failure and betrayal of the crowds around every corner of the final week of the earthly life of Jesus. The crowd, by the way, well, that’s you. And that’s me. Just FYI.


Today’s hymn of devotion is a very familiar one to readers of every denominational stripe – I sang it as a Chreaster ELCA Lutheran [different translation, very similar in tone], a mega-church Evangelical, and now as a liturgy-loving Episcopalian. That it could cross such wide denominational lines and be published in so many ‘kinds’ of hymnals is testimony to the import of the text, I think, and its marriage to such a timeless, singable melody.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded is based on a long medieval poem attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, ‘Salve mundi salutare’. This poem talks about Christ’s body, as he suffered and hung on the cross. It has seven sections, each addressing a part of Jesus’ body-his feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and head. Our hymn is a translation of the seventh section ‘Salve caput crucentatum’, focused on Jesus’ head.


O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.


Things I wish….


….that hymns weren’t being phased out of the church. Our culture emotes very well – to songs about us. Don’t believe me? Count how many times you sing ‘I’ in church next Sunday. Silly, I know. But cumulatively, it matters. I love those songs too, but a steady diet of them… well, it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. But to stop singing this, and songs like it, seems more than a shame to me. It seems a disaster.

….that at least once a year we’d sing all of these verses – anywhere. somewhere. please.

….that, when my last hour of this earthly life draws nigh, I would have the capacity to think of this text …


Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

My, oh my. 


….that I would take the time to contemplate. I make excuses instead of contemplations. I believe a hymn text like this can only be borne of a contemplative life. There’s a reason this text is by Bernard of Clairvaux. He was a mystic. Mystics might have been a little theologically out to lunch in SOME ways, but at the end of the day, I think they’re on to something. Like Bernard, here. He made space for greatness.


The first time I heard Fernando’s recording of this song was, actually, the first time I ever heard Fernando. It was the summer of 1996, and I was working at a little Bible church as a worship director. I had just graduated from college, and was also raising support for my part-time InterVarsity staff work. I was on I-94 near Racine heading South [which, as all Wisconsinites know, is actually labeled East] listening to Moody Radio. This lovely version of ‘O Sacred Head‘ that you’ve been enjoying began and I was smitten quite quickly. By the second verse, my jaw was dropped. But the magic moment for me was the key change from C to Eb using the most surprising, but not jarring, transition on the opening measure of the final verse – what sounded like a simple altered melody note was actually the leading tone to a new key – and that was the moment in which I had to pull over, because the reaction I was having in the car was not safe for highway speeds. I remember staring at the radio of my 1985 Escort Hatchback and saying aloud ‘He plays the way I think!’ I have never forgotten that moment, for it is one of only two times when a song on the radio made me pull over in response to its beauty and, I believe, as a moment of the quickening of the Holy Spirit in my life. For reals. (The other, by the way, was Sara Groves – the first time I heard Generations. Highway 41, heading south near the windmills…… )


Words: Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1153 (Salve caput cruen tatum); translated from La­tin to German by Paul Gerhardt, 1656 (O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden), and from Latin to Eng­lish James W. Alexander, 1830.

Music: Passion ChoraleHans L. HasslerLust garten neuer teutsch er Gesäng, 1601; harmony byJohann S. Bach, 1729 (MIDIscore).

An Incomplete Lenten Playlist

Hey – here are the songs from my ipod that I put in the ‘Lent’ playlist. There are major songs missing. But this is what I had in front of me at the moment. I will be adding more.. and will keep you posted!

Title Duration Artist Album Title
Down To The River To Pray 2:56 Alison Krauss O Brother, Where Art Thou?
One Pure and Holy Passion 4:32 Amy Nobles To The Ends of the Earth
Seize The Day 5:43 Carolyn Arends I Can Hear You
Only Time Will Tell 4:13 Carolyn Arends Under the Gaze
The head that once was crowned with thorns 2:27 The Choir Of Trinity College, Cambridge Hymns & Descants
Five Mystical Songs: 4. the Call 2:21 Choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral How Can I Keep from Singing?
Simple Gifts (‘Tis a Gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free) 2:18 Dale Warland Singers Harvest Home
Lord You Have My Heart 2:58 Delirious? Cutting Edge (Disc 1)
King Of Love 2:50 Delirious? Cutting Edge (Disc 1)
Handel: Messiah, HWV 56 – Then Shall The Eyes Of The Blind Be Opened
Handel: Messiah, HWV 56 – He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd
Handel: Messiah, HWV 56 – He Was Despised 4:57
When All Thy Mercies 2:54 Fernando Ortega
Jesus, King Of Angels 12:49 Fernando Ortega
More Love to Thee 3:08 Fernando Ortega Fernando Ortega
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded 4:29 Fernando Ortega Hymns & Meditations
Near The Cross 3:46 Fernando Ortega Hymns & Meditations
Nothing But The Blood 4:01 Fernando Ortega Hymns & Meditations
Con Que Pargaremos? 3:45 Fernando Ortega Hymns & Meditations
I Need Thee Every Hour 8:06 Fernando Ortega Hymns & Meditations
This Time Next Year 4:17 Fernando Ortega Storm
Sing To Jesus 5:11 Fernando Ortega Storm
I Will Wait for My Change 5:48 Fernando Ortega This Bright Hour
Grace and Peace w/Steph 3:30 Fernando Ortega Toronto Live
Lord Most High 4:17 Gary Sadler & Don Harris 16 Biggest Praise & Worship Songs, Vol. 2
Field of Your Soul 3:58 Greg & Rebecca Sparks Field of Your Soul
I See The Lord 3:14 Honeytree Pioneer
Communion Song 4:30 John Michael Talbot The Lord’s Supper
Glory And Praise To Our God 2:47 John Michael Talbot
The Lord bless you and keep you 2:40 John Rutter Requiem
I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes 7:21 John Rutter Requiem
Ubi Caritas 2:16 John Rutter & the Cambridge Singers Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Here With Us 4:53 Joy Williams Come, Let Us Adore Him
Turn, Turn, Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) 3:40 Judy Collins Forever
From The Highest of Heights 5:59 Kate Simmonds The Power of the Cross
Wonderful, Merciful Savior 3:49 Kim Hill For Such A Time As This
The Power of the Cross 5:31 Lou Fellingham The Power of the Cross
I Remember You 2:02 Mac Powell & Gene Eugene City On A Hill
Blessed Be Your Name 5:49 Matt Redman The Songs of Matt Redman, Vol. 1
Be Thou My Vision 3:28 Michael Card Starkindler
I Will Arise And Go To Jesus/Musical Priest 3:23 Michael Card Starkindler
Let All Things Now Living 3:11 Michael Card Starkindler
The King Of Love My Shepherd Is 2:58 Michael Card Starkindler
I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say/Blarney Pilgrim 4:49 Michael Card Starkindler 

Small Enough (w/Fernando Ortega) 4:15 Nichole Nordeman This Mystery
Grace Flows Down 4:24 Passion One Day Live
Sweet Mercies 5:27 Passion Worship Band Live Worship 

Watch the Lamb 7:20 r/Ray Boltz
The Love of God 2:49 Rich Mullins Never Picture Perfect
Jacob and 2 Women 3:04 Rich Mullins The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol.
Calling Out Your Name 4:54 Rich Mullins The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 1
I See You 5:28 Rich Mullins The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 1
Step By Step 2:22 Rich Mullins The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 1
Sometimes By Step 2:57 Rich Mullins The World As Best As I Remember It, Vol. 2
You Are Still Holy 4:38 Rita Springer Change My Heart, O God
Jesus, All For Jesus 11:17 Robin Mark Revival In Belfast
Be Unto Your Name 5:13 Robin Mark Revival In Belfast
This Journey Is My Own 5:50 Sara Groves Conversations
Compelled 5:18 Sara Groves Live from Messiah College
The Word 4:22 Sara Groves Live from Messiah College –
Help Me Be New 4:40 Sara Groves Past The Wishing
Awakening 4:07 Sara Groves Past The Wishing
Testimony 4:40 Sara Groves Past The Wishing
When the Saints 4:13 Sara Groves Tell Me What You Know
It Might Be Hope 3:49 Sara Groves Tell Me What You Know
Beautiful Savior 4:14 St. Olaf Choir Great Hymns of Faith
Abide With Me 4:06 St. Olaf Choir Great Hymns of Faith
Here I Am, Lord 5:27 St. Olaf Choir Great Hymns of Faith
My Song Is Love Unknown 3:28 King’s College, Cambridge, Best Loved Hymns
The Lord’s My Shepherd 2:45 King’s College, Cambridge Best Loved Hymns
By My Side 3:29 Stephen Schwartz Godspell – 2001 National Tour
Love That Will Not Let Me Go 5:11 Steve Camp Doing My Best
Cinderella (Acoustic Version) 4:28 Steven Curtis Chapman This Moment
O Church Arise 4:41 Stuart Townend The Power of the Cross
In Christ Alone 4:48 Stuart Townend See What a Morning
King of Glory 6:21 Third Day Offerings-A Worship Album
Mozart- Ave, Verum Corpus 2:54 Trinity College Choir
Where He Leads Me 5:34 Twila Paris My Utmost for His Highest
I Will Listen 3:42 Twila Paris Where I Stand
Stand — Susan Ashton 4:36 Various Artists
At The Cross 3:07 Vineyard Music with Brian Doerksen Isn’t He
The Voice Of God 5:31 4HIM Christian Classics – Inspirational
Come Down, O Love Divine 3:41 Vaughan Williams Hymnal
Organ prelude on Hyfrydol 3:09 Vaughan Williams Hymnal
Wherefore, O Father 2:11 Vaughan Williams Hymnal


Notes: Yes, there’s a Christmas song on this list. It shuffled into my headphones last week and I have to tell you that it took my breath away hearing it during Lent. Oh my. 

Notable absences: Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted – Fernando Ortega, Night of Your Return
I Come By the Blood, The Look, Before the Throne – Sovereign Grace Ministries worship resources – their stuff is the best stuff around on the Cross. One album called ‘Songs for the Cross Centered Life’ and another called ‘Upward: The Hymns Project’ are worth the price of admission. Find them here.

A Journey of Devotion-To know this Love that surpasses knowledge…


I thought about saving this hymn for Holy Week, but I decided that since it’s been such an influential text – and tune – in my life, that you might want to have it for the remainder of this Lenten season.


My Song is Love Unknown, text by Samuel Crossman, is in and of itself a speaking of the Gospel story, a devotional masterpiece, and a humbling, challenging, moving portrait of the ‘love that surpasses knowledge’ of which Paul speaks in Ephesians. It has been set to several tunes, but my favorite and the one that seems the most evocative of the deepest parts of the text is Love Unknown, by John N. Ireland, written in 1918. A story is told about Geoffrey Shaw and John Ireland. When Shaw was editing the English Hymnal, shortly after WWI, he took John Ireland to lunch. Halfway through it he handed a slip of paper to him across the table and said, “I need a tune for this lovely poem.” It was Samuel Crossman’s poem, written in 1664. Ireland read it and re-read it, then wrote some music for a few minutes on the back of the menu and handed it back to him, “Here’s your tune.” It was the music to the hymn: “My Song Is Love Unknown”.

Must be nice.

Text is below, with thoughts between each verse.

My song is love unknown,

My Savior’s love to me;

Love to the loveless shown, 
That they might lovely be.

O who am I, that for my sake
 My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?
—–My song – my theme – all my glory – is this love that surpasses knowledge that we are still compelled to know more fully. Thus, there is no end to the depths we may plumb of the marvelous love of God, particularly as displayed in His Son. I stand amazed!

He came from His blest throne

Salvation to bestow;

But men made strange,  and none
the longed for Christ would know:

But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
 Who at my need His life did spend.
—a definition of ‘strange’ – [ predic. ] ( strange to/at/in)  unaccustomed to or unfamiliar with : “I am strange to the work”. So, in this case, unfamiliarity led to contempt. Yet he spent – gave away – His life for you, for me.

Sometimes they strew His way,

And His sweet praises sing;

Resounding all the day
 Hosannas to their King:

Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
 And for His death they thirst and cry.


They strew his way with, of course, palm branches, at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. 
Such manic people wi
th their praises and curses! From the same tongue, in nearly the same breath. I stand
convicted. So familiar.

Why, what hath my Lord done?

What makes this rage and spite? 
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,

Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
 Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.


Sweet is the injury that leads me to an encounter with the Living God. The blind – sighted. The deaf – hearing.
The lame – running. Physical, spiritual, emotional – healing. And yet, we condemn. This is the mystery of Holy Week. We are among the crowd. 

They rise and needs will have

My dear Lord made away;

A murderer they saved,
 The Prince of life they slay,

Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
 That He His foes from thence might free.


The Lord ‘made away’ – fulfilled – their needs… yet He is slain. Yet, to suffering He goes with
cheer – one of the synonyms for ‘cheerful’ is ‘agreeable’. Resolved. Resigned. Resplendent
In life, no house, no home

My Lord on earth might have;

In death no friendly tomb
 But what a stranger gave.

What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
 But mine the tomb wherein He lay.


Our Lord Jesus was the ultimate sojourner. A wanderer from embryonic state – a visitor, literally. 
And to the end, He remained a sojourner – with only a borrowed tomb. I suppose, since He wouldn’t
need it for long…. But yet, I think there’s a very appropriate summation of the story in this simple statement –
What may I say?

Here might I stay and sing,

No story so divine;

Never was love, dear King!
 Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
 I all my days could gladly spend.

Oh, Lord, keep me near to the cross, where I am reminded – daily – to sing the song of Your suffering,
Your sacrifice, and Your glory. May this Lenten journey bear lasting fruit in my Alle—ia life – that
the glory songs of life would be more significant because of the experience of the cross songs of
difficult days. Keep me ever-faithful, dear Lord…


Born: 1623, Bradfield Monachorum, Suffolk, England.
Died: February 4, 1683, Bristol, England.
Buried: South aisle, cathedral church, Bristol, England.
Crossman earned a Bachelor of Divinity at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and was Prebendary of Bristol. After graduation, he ministered to both an Anglican congregation at All Saints, Sudbury, and to a Puritan congregation as well. Crossman sympathized with the Puritan cause, and attended the 1661 Savoy Conference, which attempted to update the Book of Common Prayer so both Puritans and Anglicans could use it. The conference failed, and the 1662 Act of Uniformity expelled some 2,000 ministers from the Church, including Crossman. He recanted shortly thereafter, and was ordained in 1665, becoming a royal chaplain. He received a post at Bristol in 1667, and became Dean of Bristol Cathedral in 1683.


There are several tune options for this text. My favorite is here

A lovely more-folky tune is here, and you can finda great recording of it on ‘Night of Your Return’ by Fernando Ortega. He uses a more contemporary setting of the text, as well.

A Journey of Devotion – Ash Wednesday

Thoughts on Ash Wednesday, taken from Worship Without Words by Patricia S. Klein – oh my, I cannot recommend this little book strongly enough if you have any interest at all in liturgy, loveliness, and visuals in worship.


The name is taken from the custom of putting ashes on the forehead on this first day of Lent, as a reminder of our need for repentance. The date of Ash Wednesday falls forty-six days before Easter. The ashes used are the powdered ashes of the burnt palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services.


…all this flourishing life, turns to a little ash, a handful of dry dust, which every breeze scatters this way and that. All this brilliant color, all this sensitive, breathing life, falls into pale, feeble, dead earth – and less than earth – into ashes. It is the same with ourselves. We look into an opened grave and shiver: a few bones, a handful of ash-grey dust.

Remember man
that dust thou art, 
and unto dust shalt thou return.

Ashes signify man’s overthrow by time. Our own swift passage, ours and not someone else’s, ours, mine. When at the beginning of Lent the priest takes the burnt residue of the green branches of the last Palm Sunday and inscribes with it on my forehead the sign of the cross, it is to remind me of my death.

Memento homo
quia hulvis est
et in pulverem reverteris.
(Romano Guardini, Sacred Signs)


I spent my earliest years at a Lutheran church, in a family of occasional attendees. I have vague memories of being very young and making crosses out of my Palm Sunday frond. Though my family didn’t continue attending church and I didn’t get involved again until my teenage years, the sense of the sacred stayed with me. During my exodus into mega-church Evangelicalism, this was the time of year when I most missed the anchoring, aching loveliness of liturgical worship. It was a palpable loss even if I couldn’t quite identify what was missing.


(And don’t even get me started on my angst when, while working at a church that had Saturday services, we had to celebrate Easter Sunday on Holy Saturday [Christ the Lord will rise tomorrow?] )


It wasn’t until my husband attended seminary at Nashotah House Theological Seminary that the pieces and parts came together for me, creating a cohesive journey that has deepened my longing for all of Jesus – all of the journey – all of sharing in Christ’s sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3.10-11). Everywhere you turn, during Lent, there is a reminder of it – from the crosses being veiled – shrouded – to the lack of ‘Alle–ia’ being spoken or sung anywhere for the duration of the penitent season. As a worship leader, that one had a profound effect on me. And imagine the joy at singing it on Easter morning after fasting from it for so long!


Nashotah House Maundy Thursday 2008 - an example of the shrouded cross. Photo by Micah Snell.

Nashotah House Maundy Thursday 2008 - an example of the shrouded cross. Photo by Micah Snell.


So, to begin, our hymn for Ash Wednesday comes from the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal, though like most others, I’m sure it’s published in many other places. This could well be a theme for the entire journey, and would be a great prayer for every morning. It’s sung in this hymnal to the simple tune St. Flavian, but could be easily sung to any setting.

Lord, who throughout these forty days, for us did fast and pray,

Teach us, with Thee, to mourn our sins, and close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend and didst the vict’ry win,

O give us strength in Thee to fight, in Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger, bear, and thirst, so teach us, gracious Lord,

To die to self, and chiefly live by Thy most holy word.

And through these days of penitence, and through Thy Passiontide,

Yea, evermore, in life and death, Jesus, with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life of suffering overpast,

An Easter of unending joy we may attain at last.
Claudia Frances Hernaman (1838-1898)

Born: Oct. 19, 1838, Addlestone, Surrey, England, Died: Oct. 10, 1898, Brussels, Belgium.


Claudia’s father was an Anglican priest, and her husband a minister and school inspector. She took an avid interest in children’s religious education, and some of her translations of Latin hymns were specifically for children. 


And, to close, from the Book of Common Prayer, an Ash Wednesday charge – 


I invite you, therefore, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.