Thoughts of Lent
Today begins the season of Lent with the Celebration of Ash Wednesday. Lent is a penitential season and a time of reflection. Lent has always been a favorite season of the church year. I remember as a child we would walk to Church for mid-week services on Wednesday evenings. The walk was not far – down the hill of the backyard, across the snowy field to the church parking lot. Dad often had to work evenings. Mom never learned how to drive. Since Church was close, walking was the mode of transport. There was always a bit of excitement in that walk to church. It meant an evening of staying up past our bedtime and being outside after dark. The air would be filled with the changes of the season: melting snow, wet ground, and the smells of coming spring. The sky was black as velvet with a sprinkle of stars.
Childhood memories of the services on those Wednesday evenings have long passed to far recesses of the mind. But there is one part of those services that has stayed with me throughout the years – the rich tapestry of hymns reserved specifically for Lent remain vivid in my memory to this day. I would wait for those Wednesday evenings to sing hymns like “Go to Dark Gethsemane.” As a child, the words of that hymn were memorized. They brought the scriptures vividly to life. The scriptures of Christ’s Passion and Lenten hymns were forever twined together in my mind. One could begin to imagine the agony Christ suffered as he prayed. I loved singing that hymn “Go to Dark Gethsemane” in the dim evening light of the church. It was then and still is a favorite Lenten Hymn.
Urslinine Center Artists’ Studio Private Collection. Photo from the Collection of Carrie Roberts June 2016
Other Lent hymns have also become favorites over the years. They include “O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken” and “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now.” During my college years at University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis, the tradition of attending midweek Lenten Service on Wednesday evenings continued. It was during Lenten services in those college years that I was first introduced to the Lenten Hymn, “My Song Is Love Unknown.” Like the words of a poem, these hymns are full of rich meaning. One must take the time to reflect and contemplate during the season of Lent, mulling over a rich feast of Lenten Hymns over and over again while pondering the readings assigned to the day. We are blessed to have such treasures as part of our worship. I look forward to enjoying a feast of hymns again this Lenten Season.
Gloria Deo Solo