Monthly Archives: February 2015

Hymns of Lent: Ash Wednesday

Hymn of the Week

Sunday’s Palms Are Wednesday’s Ashes
Text: Rae E. Whitney

Tune: BEACH SPRING attr. to B.F. White
Click the link to listen:
During the 6 weeks before Easter, the Christian church traditionally observes the season of Lent. In the early church, the 40 days (plus 6 Sundays) before Easter were a time when new converts to Christianity prepared for their baptism. Others used this time to repent, and renew their faith in Christ. Some ways in which people have done this over the years are prayer, fasting and self-denial and reading and meditating on the Word of God.

Today I’m kicking off a Lent series here on the Tattered Hymnal. If you’re new to the blog, I usually start with a hymn, spend some time meditating on it, recording it, and then writing something about it. I hope you’re encouraged as you listen and read along.

I learned something interesting last year on Ash Wednesday that I somehow missed all the years before. Did you know that if you get a cross of ashes on your forehead today, the ashes are from the burnt leaves of Palm Sunday? I love stuff like this, so I saved the palm branch my daughter waved in church last year, and let it dry for several weeks. Then, I took it out on the front step and burned it.

Sunday’s Palms
Wednesday’s Ashes
We won’t have a chance to attend an Ash Wednesday service this year, so we had our own at home this morning. It was kind of chaotic. The kids were running/crawling in circles around the room while we read Bible verses and tried to explain what today is all about. I’m sure they don’t understand why we put crosses on our foreheads, but this crazy attempt at a Henkle Ash Wednesday observation was a chance for me to consider what this season might mean for me and my family this year.

Raya putting a cross on Daddy’s forehead

Lent is not about behavior modification or mustering up enough will power to finally be a better person. Even though I do plan to give something up and add a special prayer time into my day, Lent is not about what we do to change ourselves. It’s about surrendering our lives to God who is the only one who can bring about real change in our lives. One of the readings you might hear at Ash Wednesday services today is from Joel 2:12…

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.

The hymn for today is perfect for Ash Wednesday. It’s actually one of those very specific hymns that’s really only appropriate for Ash Wednesday. As we name the ways we have sinned against God and each other, we bring them out into the light. We ask for forgiveness, and we come to the only one who can grant it. The cross of ashes on our foreheads brings us back from self-reliance and self-righteousness and reminds us that God is the giver of life and the source of all mercy, grace and forgiveness. 

…………………………………………..

And on another note, I am really excited about this series because I’ve asked some friends to help me with some guest posts. If you’re not already following this blog, you might want to start now so you don’t miss the great things they will contribute in the next 6 weeks! 

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Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean

  

I took my daughter to Dollar Tree this week to buy some treats for her preschool Valentine’s Day party. I found exactly what I was looking for – an entire display full of pink and red junk. Pink teddy bears holding hearts that said “hugs and kisses.” Silk roses that had messages like “Be Mine” and “Love Always.” Heart-shaped suckers and chocolate in shiny pink foil wrappers. Balloons, cards, light-up necklaces, napkins, paper plates. All for only one dollar each. I waded through the merchandise to pick out just the right sugary treat to include in my daughter’s Minnie Mouse valentines for her classmates. I also scanned the shelves for something that wouldn’t break the Henkle’s frugal February budget, but would be fun for the kids and the husband to receive from me on the day celebrating love. I couldn’t help but think there must be a better way to communicate my love than a junky item from the Dollar Tree… 
So, on this Valentine’s Day weekend, I give you a hymn that was once known as the love song of the 1904 Welsh Revival. Over 100,000 people in the tiny country Wales were transformed by the overwhelming love of God. Evidence of the people’s encounter with God showed up everywhere. Crime was so drastically reduced that police were unemployed. Judges had no cases to try. Bars and taverns went bankrupt. And the tidal wave of revival did not stop in this small country, but spread all over the world. 
Unlike my Valentine’s Day shopping this year God’s is not frugal. God’s love is a vast ocean. A deep and wide fountain. An incessant river of grace and love. The truth is, my daughter will be thrilled to get her pink wand and butterfly wings on Valentine’s Day. I know my gift will make her happy. And the best part is, it only set me back two dollars. But God is not just out to make us happy. He wants to make us holy and whole. His love can and does transform lives, families, communities, states, nations. As I celebrate the people I love, I look to God who is love. May you experience his vast, deep, transforming love this Valentine’s Day.
Here is love, vast as the ocean, lovingkindness as the flood
When the Prince of Life, our ransom, shed for us his precious blood
Who his love will not remember? Who can cease to sing his praise
He can never be forgotten throughout heaven’s eternal days.
On the mount of crucifixion, fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers, poured incessant from abouve
And heaven’s peace and perfect justice kissed a guilty world in love.
Let me all thy love accepting, love thee ever, all my days
Let me seek thy kingdom only and my life be to thy praise
Thou alone shalt be my glory, nothing in the world I see
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me, thou thyself has set me free.
In thy truth thou dost direct me, by the Spirit, through thy word
And thy grace my need is meeting, as I trust in thee, my Lord
Of thy fullness thou art pouring thy great love and power on me
Without measure, full and boundless, drawing out my heart to thee.

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Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean

Text: st 1&2: William Rees (1802-1883), William Williams (st 3&4)

Tune: Here is Love Vast as the Ocean

I took my daughter to Dollar Tree this week to buy some treats for her preschool Valentine’s Day party. I found exactly what I was looking for – an entire display full of pink and red junk. Pink teddy bears holding hearts that said “hugs and kisses.” Silk roses that had messages like “Be Mine” and “Love Always.” Heart-shaped suckers and chocolate in shiny pink foil wrappers. Balloons, cards, light-up necklaces, napkins, paper plates. All for only one dollar each. I waded through the merchandise to pick out just the right sugary treat to include in my daughter’s Minnie Mouse valentines for her classmates. I also scanned the shelves for something that wouldn’t break the Henkle’s frugal February budget, but would be fun for the kids and the husband to receive from me on the day celebrating love. I couldn’t help but think there must be a better way to communicate my love than a junky item from the Dollar Tree…

So, on this Valentine’s Day weekend, I give you a hymn that was once known as the love song of the 1904 Welsh Revival. Over 100,000 people in the tiny country Wales were transformed by the overwhelming love of God. Evidence of the people’s encounter with God showed up everywhere. Crime was so drastically reduced that police were unemployed. Judges had no cases to try. Bars and taverns went bankrupt. And the tidal wave of revival did not stop in this small country, but spread all over the world.

God’s love is neither cheap nor small. And unlike my Valentine’s Day shopping this year, the images in this hymn communicate anything but frugality. God’s love is a vast ocean. A deep and wide fountain. An incessant river of grace and love.

The truth is, my daughter will be thrilled to get her pink wand and butterfly wings on Valentine’s Day. I know my gift will make her happy. And the best part is, it only set me back two dollars. But God is not just out to make us happy. He wants to make us holy and whole.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

As I celebrate the people I love, I look to God who is love. May you experience his vast, deep, transforming love this Valentine’s Day.

Here is love, vast as the ocean, lovingkindness as the flood

When the Prince of Live, our ransom, shed for us his precious blood

Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing his praise?

He can never be forgotten throughout heaven’s eternal days

On the mount of crucifixion, fountains opened deep and wide

Through the floodgates of God’s mercy flowed a vast and gracious tide.

Grace and love, like mighty rivers poured incessant from above

And heaven’s peace and perfect justice kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all thy love accepting, love thee ever, all my days

Let me seek thy kingdom only and my life be to thy praise

Thou alone shalt be my glory, nothing in the world I see

Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me, thou thyself has set me free.

In thy truth thou dost direct me by thy Spirit, through thy word

And thy grace my need is meeting as I trust in thee, my Lord

Of thy fullness thou art pouring thy great love and power on me

Without measure, full and boundless, drawing out my heart to thee.

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