Holy Week Music

I love the hymns that we get to sing in church. We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful hymns and songs that describe God and our lives of discipleship. The music for Holy Week is no exception. Holy Week tells us of the final days of Jesus’ life, leading up to his crucifixion, and these hymns help us to explore our understanding of these events and even our role in them.

The hymn, “Ah Holy Jesus” by Johann Heermann reminds us of the consequences of our sin – “Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee! ‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.” The hymn also personalizes Jesus’ birth, life, and death – it was for us that Jesus came to earth and then suffered and died – “For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation; thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation.”

The hymn, “O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done” by Charles Wesley has some similar themes – emphasizing how God has done this for us out of God’s great love for us. I really like how Wesley even called God “Love” in this hymn, emphasizing how the events we remember this week are from God’s love for us. “O Love divine, what has thou done! The immortal God hath died for me! The Father’s coeternal Son bore all my sins upon the tree. The immortal God hath died for me! My Lord, my Love, is crucified!” Verse 2 of this hymn reminds us how we are reconciled to God through this work of Jesus – “Is crucified for me and you, to bring us rebels back to God. Believe, believe the record true, ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood. Pardon for all flows from his side: My Lord, my Love, is crucified!”

The final hymn I want to highlight is “What Wondrous Love Is This”. This hymn again emphasizes the amazing and incredible love God has for us an individuals and as a collective humanity. Just read these great words!

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of life
to lay aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
to lay aside his crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme I will sing, I will sing;
while millions join the theme I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

I invite to read these words and pray them as we contemplate God’s great love for us this week!

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