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What Is Lent? – Top Worship Songs for Lent

What Is Lent? – Top Worship Songs for Lent

Editorial Team
Lent Best Worship Music and Scripture

As we approach the solemn yet reflective season of Lent, it is both timely and edifying to consider the musical expressions that have carried the faithful through this period of penitence and preparation for centuries. Lent, a 40-day journey mirroring Jesus’ time of fasting in the wilderness, invites Christians into a season of reflection, repentance, and renewal, leading up to the glorious celebration of Easter. This year, Lent commences on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday paving the way for Easter Sunday.

St. Augustine: “Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us, without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us the happiness we long for.”

The History and Importance of Lent

Lent’s origins can be traced to the early Christian church as a preparatory time for Easter, where believers emulated Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. This season is traditionally marked by fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, serving as a spiritual journey to deepen one’s faith and commitment.

Henri Nouwen: “Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace, and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us, without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us the happiness we long for.”

Scripture for Lent

Lent offers a rich tapestry of scriptural passages that guide us through this reflective and penitential season. These scriptures help us to meditate on themes of repentance, humility, self-examination, and the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Here are some significant scriptures that are particularly resonant during Lent:

  1. Matthew 4:1-11 – The Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. This passage mirrors the 40 days of Lent and invites us to reflect on our own temptations and reliance on God’s Word for strength.
  2. Isaiah 58:1-12 – Calls for true fasting that leads to justice and righteousness. This passage challenges us to consider the outward expression of our inner Lenten journey.
  3. Joel 2:12-13, 28-32 – “Rend your heart and not your garments.” A poignant call to sincere repentance and the promise of God’s gracious response.
  4. Psalm 51 – A deeply personal confession from King David after his sin with Bathsheba. This psalm is a quintessential prayer of repentance, often associated with Lent.
  5. 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10 – Paul’s appeal for reconciliation with God. This passage emphasizes the grace of God and the urgency of being reconciled to Him.
  6. Romans 8:31-39 – Highlights the love of God in Christ Jesus. While Lent is a time of penitence, this passage reassures us of the inseparable love of God, even in the midst of trial.
  7. Luke 15:11-32 – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. This story encapsulates themes of repentance, forgiveness, and the joyous return to God’s grace.
  8. Philippians 2:5-11 – Encourages us to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, whose humility and obedience led Him to the cross for our salvation.
  9. Hebrews 12:1-3 – Urges us to run the race set before us with perseverance, looking to Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
  10. 1 Peter 4:1-8 – Calls Christians to live for the will of God and arm themselves with the same attitude as Christ.

These passages, among many others, serve as a spiritual guide throughout Lent, leading us on a path of deeper understanding and closer communion with God. Let us embrace this season with a heart open to transformation and renewal.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The celebration of Lent in the season of the Church year is something very different from the first Lenten season in the life of the congregation. Lent is a gift from the Church to the congregation.”

Top 5 Hymns for Lent

  • “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts
    • Description: A profound reflection on the sacrifice of Christ, this hymn invites worshippers to contemplate the depth of Jesus’ love displayed on the cross.
    • Review: Its poignant lyrics and simple yet powerful melody resonate deeply, fostering a reflective atmosphere.
    • Scripture Reference: Galatians 6:14, where Paul speaks of boasting only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux
      • Description: This hymn poetically expresses the physical and emotional pains Christ endured for humanity’s sake.
      • Review: The haunting melody and vivid imagery draw the singer into a deep empathy with Christ’s suffering.
      • Scripture Reference: Isaiah 53:5, highlighting Christ’s wounds and sufferings for our transgressions.

  • “Forty Days and Forty Nights” by George Hunt Smyttan
    • Description: Reflecting on Jesus’ time in the wilderness, this hymn connects our Lenten journey with His.
    • Review: Its repetitive, meditative quality mirrors the repetitive nature of our own spiritual practices during Lent.
    • Scripture Reference: Matthew 4:1-2, the account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.

  • “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed” by Isaac Watts
    • Description: This hymn marvels at the sacrifice of Jesus, questioning the immense love that led Him to the cross for our sake.
    • Review: The blend of sorrow and love in the lyrics helps worshippers appreciate the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice.
    • Scripture Reference: Romans 5:8, demonstrating God’s love through Christ’s death for us while we were still sinners.

  • “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” by Elizabeth C. Clephane
    • Description: A declaration of refuge and peace in the shadow of Christ’s cross.
    • Review: The hymn’s gentle cadence and vivid imagery offer solace and sanctuary, embodying the essence of Lenten reflection.
    • Scripture Reference: Galatians 2:20, which speaks of living by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Top 5 Modern Worship Songs for Lent

  • “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
    • Description: A powerful modern hymn declaring the foundation and hope found in Christ alone.
    • Review: Its robust theology and sweeping narrative from Christ’s birth to resurrection make it a comprehensive reflection for Lent.
    • Scripture Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, outlining the gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection.

  • “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship
    • Description: An invitation to find forgiveness and rest at the altar, mirroring the Lenten themes of repentance and renewal.
    • Review: The song’s repetitive chorus and verses act as a continual call back to God’s open arms.
    • Scripture Reference: Hebrews 4:16, encouraging us to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.

  • “Lead Me to the Cross” by Hillsong United
    • Description: A prayerful request to be led to the cross, where one can lay down worldly concerns and remember Christ’s sacrifice.
    • Review: Its intimate lyrics and contemplative melody encourage personal reflection and surrender.
    • Scripture Reference: Mark 8:34, where Jesus calls for His followers to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.

  • “Kyrie Eleison” by Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher, and others
    • Description: Derived from the Greek for “Lord, have mercy,” this song is a modern plea for God’s mercy, fitting for Lenten introspection.
    • Review: Its simple, repetitive plea for mercy is both humbling and accessible, perfect for congregational worship.
    • Scripture Reference: Psalm 51:1, a classic Lenten passage pleading for God’s mercy and forgiveness.

  • “Build My Life” by Housefires and Pat Barrett
    • Description: A commitment to building one’s life upon the love of Jesus, echoing the Lenten theme of reorientation towards God.
    • Review: The song’s crescendo from introspective verses to a bold declaration in the chorus mirrors the Lenten journey from reflection to action.
    • Scripture Reference: Matthew 7:24-27, the parable of building one’s house on the rock, representing a life founded on Christ’s teachings.

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Reading on Lent

Bread and Wine Readings for Lent CS Lewis   Preparing for Easter CS Lewis

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