October 22, 2020

Music Monday: Top Songs for Lent

Stations of the Cross, Gethsemani Abbey

Stations of the Cross, Gethsemani Abbey

One of the best resources on the web for pastors, church musicians, and worship leaders is the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. In their Resource Library, I found a page on which four church leaders listed their top ten songs for the Lenten season. You can go to the site and read more about each leader, their congregations, and their thoughts about Lenten worship.

This leads me to list my choices for top ten songs to use personally and in groups for Lent. I hope this will prompt some discussion about your favorite music for this time in the Christian Year.

If you are a pastor or church musician, I would especially love to hear from you.

• • •

I will limit my choices to more contemporary songs today (songs written in my lifetime), and perhaps in a future post we can discuss more traditional Lenten hymns. Each link takes you to a performance so that you can listen to each song if you like.

I have arranged these songs in an order that makes a nice playlist for Lenten devotion.

Ten Songs for Lent

I also recommend, for congregational prayer in Lent:


  1. We did “Sing to Jesus” just this morning. First time singing it. Got more of the Robby Seay sound with two delay pedals on my Les Paul, digital set for quarters and analog for dotted quarters. Fun stuff!
    We use Holden Evening Prayer in Advent. Too sappy for Lent, IMO. Personally, I have never gotten comfortable with the Lutheran daily offices. They just seem inferior to their Anglican counterparts in every way.

    I’ll add some of my favorites in the morning. I can never get enough Lent!

  2. Traditionally, Lent has been the time when my pastor delivers his toughest (hard to hear) sermons.

    This one from yesterday is ‘music to my ears’:


    Not a bad thing to listen to…in between all the great music.

  3. OT: Chaplain Mike: With the occasional but regular Lutheran/Luther comments & discussions in threads here at IM, as well as your own identification as a Lutheran, this post mentions a book that might be of great interest for discussion here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/03/09/whats-the-old-perspective-on-paul/

  4. Holden Evening Prayer is very moving. The gender-neutral language is a little cumbersome.

  5. Beautiful and meaningful songs. Thanks for posting.

  6. Dana Ames says

    Sometimes Marty Haugen’s music is looked down on, but I like it. I think my favorite is actually “Shepherd Me, O God.”

    When I’m in a contemplative mood, I like to listen to music without words. John Michael Talbot’s instrumental albums work well for me. There’s an album called “Communion” put out by Maranatha/Corinthian, produced by J.A. Schreiner, that has been very meaningful for me; I think it would be right up your alley, Ch Mike.


  7. Robert F says

    I can’t listen to “Sing to Jesus” without tears coming to my eyes. A hauntingly beautiful song that touches my heart from the inside.

    let my tears mingle with yours

    let my sorrow
    find its center
    in you

    let my mind
    look with my body
    to you, lord,
    for joy and life

    let me rest
    in the flower
    of your love

    • Christiane says

      the hymn reminds me of an old prayer of my faith, this:

      “Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
      Body of Christ, save me.
      Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
      Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
      Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
      O Good Jesus, hear me.
      Within Thy wounds hide me.
      Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
      From the malignant enemy defend me.
      In the hour of my death call me.
      And bid me come unto Thee,
      That with all Thy saints,
      I may praise thee
      Forever and ever.

      there is not one Lenten season where this prayer goes unsaid among those of my faith . . . that hymn touches on the same yearning to immerse ourselves in Christ and within His loving-care

  8. I’m particularly enjoying our liturgical music for the season of Lent (we typically rotate settings by season).
    We’re using a Kyrie from the Russian Orthodox church, our offertory hymn is “On My Heart Imprint Your Image,” which features my favorite Lent tune, we sing my own paraphrase of the Sanctus to the tune from “Holy Holy Holy,” complete with old English to match the rest of our rubrics (to bring out somber tones), “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” for the Agnus Dei, and a paraphrase of the Song of Simeon set to the tune from “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” It is a lovely melodic combination, with balance between major and minor.

    Lenten songs not already mentioned: Gungor’s “Beautiful Things,” “Beautiful, Scandalous Night,” by The Choir, “In the Shaddow of the Glorious Cross” by Sojourn, “Only You” by Phil Keaggy, “The Look,” by Bob Kaufflin, “The Father’s Love is Deep and Wide” by Brian Moss, “It is Finished” by Matt Papa, “I Will Glory In My Redeemer,” Sovereign Grace, “Only His Wounds,” by Brian Moss, “With Melting Heart and Weeping Eyes,” “Christ or Else I Die,” and “Hark the Voice of Love and Mercy” by Red Mountain Church, “Tension is a Passing Note” by Sixpence None the Richer, “O My God” by Jars of Clay, and most importantly: “Earth Has No Sorrow Heaven Can’t Heal,” by Vigilantes of Love. I only use these as the anthem during the offering. With the congregation, we sing “Man of Sorrows,” a newish Hillsong piece that is by far their most hymn-like and IMO their best to date.

    Taize: O Lord Hear my Prayer, Jesus Remember Me, Eat This Bread, I Am Sure I Shall See.

    For hymns, I revel in any minor key dirge and look forward all year to using them. “Jesus, Grant That Balm and Healing,” “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted,” “What Wondrous Love is This,” “O Love How Deep,” “The Royal Banners Forward Go,” and the major key “My Song Is Love Unknown” are my favorites of the season. But generally anything from the “Lent” section is a huge win for me. 😀

    • Christiane says

      MIGUEL, thank you so much for those titles . . .

      this whole post and comments are a great Lenten resource for me 🙂