This Sunday’s Music: Sunday I of Lent

Even with Easter sitting so late in the (civil) calendar this year, it is hard to believe how quickly Lent has crept up on us… but here we are! In addition to loads of musical changes this week, do not forget that we will lose an hour this weekend! We’re springing forward!

Just a side note: the Church runs on a yearly cycle of readings during the Mass, i.e. A, B, and C. Our Vatican Council II fathers wanted the faithful to be exposed to more of the Good Book every year than just one set of readings. While the rest of the Church is in Year C, we at SFDS are in Year A for our 9:00 Mass because we have in our faith formation program those brothers and sisters, for whom the Church gives Year A as an option in their preparations for the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil. This will have an influence on our musical selections for the third Sunday of Lent since they are tied in with the Scripture on Sundays.

So, how are we getting in the spirit of Lent at SFDS for the first Sunday?


As we sang on Ash Wednesday and will continue to sing every Sunday throughout Lent, we at SFDS have “updated” the melody of an ancient chant, the Atténde, Dómine:

Atténde, Dómine, et miserére,
Quía peccávimus tibi.
(Hearken, O LORD, and have mercy,
For we have sinned against Thee.)

It may feel strange and even uncomfortable to sing such a “foreign” melody in a “foreign” language, but isn’t that the exact point of this season? We are challenged to step outside of our comfort zones in order to deepen our faith. Embrace the challenge! This is how much we have changed the hymn from the original:


You will probably immediately recognize the lyrics in the verses as extremely familiar… like, almost plagiarized from those in the iconic hymn On Eagle’s Wings. Well, which one came first? Hmmm… the Hebrew writers or Michael Joncas… Yes! We are singing, this weekend, the scriptural source for that 1979 hit and so many others. Our Gospel, too, makes blatant references to this ancient Psalm. Use the haunting melody of Val Parker’s setting to get in the spirit. Here’s a preview:


What better way to highlight the Lenten season than the use of African-American spirituals? This style of music was born out of a culture of an enslaved and oppressed people yearning to be free and falling on the hope and promises of eternal life found in the Christian faith. Some spirituals are bright while others remind us of the pain that our brothers and sisters suffered. We, too, during this Lenten season, are a people who need to fall on our faith in the Resurrection and on our identity as an Easter people. This Sunday, we will sing I Want Jesus To Walk With Me. No, we are not singing Kanye West’s Jesus Walks, but… here is the actual version of this spiritual, which he sampled for his hit single — and which we are going to replicate lightly because it is THAT good —:


The title of the hymn says everything about its message, now doesn’t it? It makes reference to our Old Testament Reading today (Deuteronomy 26:4-10) and is truly a testament not only of our Lenten journey but also of our weekly experience on Sundays: we come in with our burdens and our woes and leave lifted up and renewed. Check it out:


As we sang during the Distribution of Ashes on Wednesday, we sing together once more as an Easter people the song Rise from the Ashes. May we use this Lent to “rise from the ashes” of the past, and to “rise with the Son” who raises us, and to “rise beyond tomorrow”, which may be those obstacles that stand in our way. If we do this through our faith and our commitment thereto, then we will truly let the Lord “change our hearts” so His will may be done. We are “many parts”, but we, as a family united in Christ, can “live as one!”


Our readings this weekend are rife with references to the saving power of calling upon the Lord, but none captures it better than the final two verses from our Second Reading:

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans‬ ‭10:12-13‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

Couple this with our Gospel Reading of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), and you have the recipe for our final hymn. Because Lent calls for a certain solemnity, we won’t be singing it as jubilantly as it is usually sung, BUT come ooooon, SFDS! Let’s praise: