Monday, March 30, 2015

Holy Monday

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but
first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he 
was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way 
of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and 
peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who 
liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, 
for ever and ever. Amen.
-- Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Holy Monday

During Holy Week, the liturgies do not include a dismissal. We are still sent out, but we also remain in the worship service from Sunday to Sunday. We do not skip from Palm Sunday to Easter or even from Palm Sunday to the Triduum to Easter. The journey lasts the full week.

Blest are those who from this table
Live their lives in gratitude.
Taste and see the grace eternal.
Taste and see that God is good.
-- Sylvia Dunstan

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.


It's the cry of a crowd that was horribly wrong about the nature of their Lord and the scope of the salvation to come. But with each Eucharist we nevertheless sing this hymn. Their expectations were wrong, but their song was true. Hosanna. Save us, a praise to the One who will save and a plea for deliverance. They were in need of a savior, and we stand in need of Christ still. Christ is still the One who comes in the name of the Lord, the One who is God Incarnate to deliver us, the One who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord. We strive for relationship with God who created us and all the world in power and might, the God in whose image we are made. When we turned away and our love failed, God's love remained steadfast. (Service of Word & Table II) Through all our cycles of apostasy, God loved, God loves, and God will love. And so God, whose glory fills all that is, whom we characterize by power and might, became flesh. This is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

We are always in need of God's grace, so we call out, "Hosanna," and God saves.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hungarian Hymns: Grant Me Tranquility

I spent last semester in Hungary, and I have a Hungarian hymnal, "Az Úrnak zengjen az ének." This hymn, "Adj már csendességet" by Balassi Bálint, is the first in the Lenten section of the hymnal. The title translates as "Grant me tranquility." Here's a video of the hymn:

During Lent, I've been singing the Psalms, and something I like about this hymn is that it feels very Psalm-like in topic and tone. It goes from lament about circumstances to mourning sin to trust in and praise of the Lord. Here are some of my favorite lines in both Hungarian and English (translation by Szirtes George):

Sok ideje immár, hogy lelkem szomjan  vár mentségére, 
Őrizd, ne hadd, ébreszd, haragod ne gerjeszd vesztségére! 
Through long years of penitence,
my spirit craved sustenance, desiring salvation;
Shield me and watch with me,
let not your enmity cause my damnation.

Nem kicsiny munkával, fiad halálával váltottál meg. 
Not without labour you saved me, my saviour, through death of your son.

Nem kell kételkednem, sőt jót reménlenem igéd szerint, 
Megadod kedvesen, mit ígérsz kegyesen hitem szerint.
Why should I doubt,
when despair is cast out in trust of your word;
Freely you’ll grant me
the grace not denied me, the faithful’s reward.

Repülvén áldjalak, élvén imádjalak vétek nélkül, 
Kit jól gyakorolván, haljak meg nyugodván, bú s kín nélkül!
Flying, I’d bless you,
adoring address you, my trespass defying,
Thus practiced in flight,
my soul being healed might I rise in my dying.

Taste and See the Grace Eternal

"All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly" is a communion hymn by Sylvia Dunstan. It's in The Faith We Sing, and I love its focus on community and grace.

All who hunger, gather gladly;
holy manna is our bread.
Come from wilderness and wandering.
Here, in truth, we will be fed.
You that yearn for days of fullness,
all around us is our food.
Taste and see the grace eternal.
Taste and see that God is good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Glory of These Forty Days

The United Methodist Hymnal doesn't have many Lent-specific hymns outside of the Holy Week section, which is a shame. "The Glory of These Forty Days" isn't in the UMH or any of the supplements, but it's in the Catholic Missal and the Hymnal 1982 (Episcopal).

The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by Whom all things were made,
Himself has fasted and has prayed.

So often we don't think of Lent as a season of celebration or a time of glory. It's solemn and somber, a contrast to Easter following it. We bury alleluias during Lent! Nevertheless, though, a season of introspection and cleansing should be joyful. I'm reading through Mark, and I recently read the section in which Jesus tells the Pharisees that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Lent is a gift to us just as the Sabbath is. Lent is a time to look to the model of Christ, fully God and thus Creator, in fasting and prayer. As we seek to be renewed in God's image, we follow the example of God Incarnate.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Teach Us With Thee to Mourn Our Sins

"Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days" by Claudia Hernaman is one of the few non-Holy Week hymns in the United Methodist Hymnal that is explicitly Lenten. It's commonly sung on Ash Wednesday or the first Sunday during Lent, but it's appropriate for the whole season.

Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins
And close by Thee to stay.

The first verse of this hymn is probably my favorite, and  "Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins" is without question my favorite line. The forty days of Lent mirror Christ's forty days in the wilderness, and so Lent should be for us a time of spiritual discipline as set forth in the Lord's example. Lent is a season of both penitence and reconciliation, and those require self-examination. But we don't observe Lent alone. It's not within our power to keep our Lenten disciplines alone! The point of Lent is our need for God's grace. Without God's grace we would not know what is sin, we would not be able to repent of sin, and we would not recognize in ourselves the image of God. We would not know God. Only by God's grace can we be cleansed, restored, and go on to perfect love.