Palm/Passion Sunday, March 25
Note: We asked our writers on Sundays to address the power of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in their lives.
Music, like Lent, sometimes takes us where we prefer not to go. In “South Pacific,” sophisticated South Sea planter Emile de Becque laments the lost love of perky World War II navy nurse Nellie Forbush. Each time I listen to Emile sing, “This nearly was mine,” I become misty-eyed for all the “what-might-have-beens” in my life. The music lures me to where I did not want to go. I’d much rather chuckle as Nellie sings, “I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair.”
Lent, like music, sometimes takes us where we prefer not to go. Lent lures and leads us to the whole range of life’s experiences. We sing our way from “Itsy bitsy spider” to “Till my trophies at last I lay down.”
I would rather sing “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” but in Lent I am lured and led by the haunting refrains of “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” I am immersed in Bernard of Clairvaux’s words depicting Christ “scornfully surrounded with thorns, thine only crown.” Bernard’s images of the suffering Lord I love set to Hans Hassler’s music touch my heart and raise me up until I see the vision of Christ suffering as the costly price of love God is willing to pay. “What thou, O Christ, hast suffered was all for sinners’ (including my) gain.”
Lenten music takes me to where I would rather not go, but there I am prepared for the inevitable suffering in my life and in the lives of those I love. I learn the cost of being loved and loving in return.
Through tears, I respond, “What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest Friend, for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end? O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be, O, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.”
Prayer: O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down; now scornfully surrounded with thorns, thine only crown. Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve thy place; look on me with thy favor, and keep me in thy grace.
– Peter M. Morgan