Ash Wednesday Litany & Hymn

Something about the seasons of the church brings out the blogger in me. Here’s what we’re planning to this afternoon in lieu of an Ash Wednesday service. But let’s be honest… our kids are little. We’ll get through some of it, and then they’ll start running around the house! It’s worth a try, though…

Raya putting ashes on the Dad last year


Read Psalm 51

Ash Wednesday Hymn

Sunday’s Palms Are Wednesday’s Ashes

Text: Rae E. Whitney

Tune: BEACH SPRING attr. to B.F. White


Litany of Penitence  (from the Book of Common Prayer)

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentence, Lord, for the wrongs we have done, for our blindess to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9


Christ, the Life of All the Living – guest post by Chris Tripolino

Original German Text: Ernst C. Homburg, 1659
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863

The hymn today is from my good friend Chris Tripolino. Check out his website at and enjoy this excellent Lenten hymn.

Christ the life of all the living
Christ the death of death our foe
Who himself for me once giving
To the darkest depths of woe
That as yours, then you might have me
And have truest treasure for me
Praise and glory ever be
To him who loved, yes even me

You O Christ have taken on you
bonds and stripes a cruel rod
pain and scorn were heaped upon you
Oh sinless Son of God
Comfortless once you did languish
Me to comfort in my anguish
Praise and glory ever be
To him who loved, yes even me

Praise and glory ever be
To him who loved, yes even me

Lenten Silence – guest post by Tempa Haines

          I am many things. I am a teacher. I am a friend. I am a fan of Diet Coke with Lime. I am a lover of monkeys and words and correct grammar. I am a hater of egos and running and meatloaf. Ew, meatloaf!! I am a singer, a giggler, a guitar player- “functional, at best.” However, some of these things are changeable, assuming I out grow them… or my tastes evolve… or my life takes me down a different path, but there is one thing that I think will never change. I am a talker. I always have been.  Growing up, my parents were never shocked to hear “Tempa is quite friendly, isn’t she?” as a lead-in to the bad behavior conversation at parent-teacher conferences. Most people were kind and called me things like a “social butterfly” or commented on how I “make friends easily”, but really… I talked too much. I still do!! I process emotion verbally… actually, I process everything verbally. I just talk a lot.

            I think that’s probably why I like words. It’s hard not to love something you use so frequently, right? As an adult, I find myself talking all the time. All. The. Time.  In teaching, in texting, in chatting with friends. Unfortunately, my Chatty-Kathy nature doesn’t end with my job or my time with those with whom I share my life. I find myself filling even my prayer life with my own words. A lot of words, although usually inside my own head, scrambled in some adjective-heavy Word Burrito. I sit down to pray, but it ends with me telling God all the ideas I have that might “fix” all my issues or making a to-do list of the things I need to accomplish in order to overcome an obstacle. I sit down to listen, but all I’m doing is filling the empty space reserved for HIS words with my own. It’s the truth… my “Quiet Time” is rarely quiet.

            If I’m being 100% honest with you, quiet is unnatural to me. I have slept with the radio on for as long as I can remember. I often turn on my Ipod when I study for things or read. I turn on the TV when I walk into a room. Not because I want to watch the newest episode of “Say Yes to the Dress”, but because I need some sort of audio wallpaper. I need sound, need to hear SOMETHING. I think it’s because the silence scares me. Maybe there’s something in silence that makes me feel alone… and I don’t like that. Not one bit. 

           But yet I know the Lord asks us to “Be Still” (Psalm 46:10) and I know that Scripture is riddled with commands to “wait” and “be silent”. (Ex 14:14, Ps 37:7, Ps 62:5, Lam 3:26…etc)So silence in itself can not be a bad thing. In fact, I have no doubt that the discipline of silence is probably something that we all should utilize from time to time. Even us “talkers”.  As with anything, practice makes perfect, right? So, this year, during the Lenten season, I wanted to do just that… practice the discipline of Silence. I wanted to learn what it feels like to just be quiet. Be Still. 

            So, I sat down at my kitchen table a few weeks ago and prepared my heart (and my mind) for… well, nothing.  Homemade iced caramel macchiato in hand, I thanked the Lord for the desire to seek stillness and I asked Him to speak. I asked for the strength to just sit and listen. I asked for the courage to be still.

            Friends, I wish I could tell you that this was easy. I wish I could say that I relished in God’s voice and I was given a peace and comfort that I had not yet experienced… but that would be a lie. It was hard. I could barely keep my mind from reviewing my plans for the day or replaying a conversation I had with a new friend the night before. It was hard to not check my phone to see if I had missed a text message and hard not to begin over-thinking my own faults and short-comings. Stillness was hard and, honestly, I probably wasted the first few minutes of the first few days catching myself doing exactly what I set out NOT to do. But, eventually, over the course of the last 33 days, my mind stilled and I was able to focus on the One who continues to call me to Himself.

 I was still.

I was silent.

And I was refreshed.

                                    “…a time to be silent and a time to speak…” Ecclesiastes 3:7b

Tempa Haines is Director of Youth Ministries at Trinity Bible Church in Cedar Falls Iowa  She is in the process of writing a book with the hopes of being finished by Fall 2015.

In All Things, Give Thanks – Guest Post by Amymarie Schmidt

At the start of this Lenten season, I asked some friends to help out by providing some guest posts. Last week I shared a wonderful post and song by my sister and brother-in-law. If you missed it, you can find it here.

This week, I am excited to share a post by my good friend, Amy Schmidt. Check out her blog   one filament against the firmament   Seriously, check it out. It’s really great.

Lent represents the 40 days Christ spent in the desert. I’ve been thinking a lot about deserts but not in regards to Jesus and His 40 days spent there.

I’ve been thinking about the Israelites & their 40 year punishment in the desert.

In the last 32 years of my life, the story of the Israelites, their escape from Egypt and their subsequent wandering has been recounted to me in endless ways.  I’ve sang songs about it, with absurd hand motions and obnoxious melodies.  I’ve made dioramas of it, with little people made out of popsicles sticks and a Moses with a cotton beard down to his popsicle stick knees.  Then, in my more mature years, I heard about it in sermons, heard it likened to many things in the metaphors of popular worship songs.  Even compared my life to it, claiming some melodramatic trial I was going through similar to their plight.

I’ve done everything but actually read the scripture.

So I read it.  And do you know what?  The Israelites were sentenced to forty years of desert wandering because they complained.  God forbid them from entering the land He promised because they weren’t content with how He was providing for them.  He banished them to a miserable world just outside the beautiful world He’d set aside for them because they grumbled at Him.  (Numbers 14:26-35)

Caleb & Joshua were the only exceptions, their exception being a “different spirit”.  God granted them access to the Promise Land because they had a heart of thanksgiving, a spirit of contentment when every one of their neighbors, friends and cohorts was bitter-hearted and negative-tongued.(Numbers 14: 24 & 30)

I read this and I was stunned.  Never before has the lingering voice of my father telling a five-year-old me to “be happy with what you have” been more loud, more clear or more convicting. Our God takes a content-spirit so seriously that its opposite evokes His wrath and punishment.  He actually withholds good things from those who complain or spit in the eye of His provision.  A content-spirit is so crucial to our walk with Him that it’s included as one of the Ten Commandments!  Right there with do not murder and do not commit adultery is do not covet but be content with what you have.

And how easy is it to disobey this command?  How simple to complain about everything.  The dishes, the weather, the job, the actions or un-actions of a spouse, the car, the house, the weather again.  Complaints roll so carelessly off the tongue.  If only statements coating the tongue like sugar.

At least my tongue.

But scripture says this “…be content with what you have, for He has said ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’  (Hebrews 13: 5b) Nowhere in that scripture does it give by-laws to this instruction, stating we don’t have to be content with the difficult stuff, the annoying stuff, the unfortunate stuff. It doesn’t say “be content when things are nice and your husband just bought you ice cream”.  It just says “be content”, right now, in everything.

Now, this is not news to me necessarily.  I’ve always known contentment to be a worth-while trait. It doesn’t take much forethought to realize a content person is usually happier than a discontent person. But, that the Father of Lights, the Giver of all things, actually withholds bounty from those who make complaint their native language?  This is new, this is convicting, this is crucial.

What is even more terrifying to me is that my dissatisfied heart might be holding me back from doing the work the Lord has set before me to do.  Hebrews 13:21 says He will “equip [us] with everything good thing that [we] may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.” There is no higher calling then do that which is pleasing in the sight of Yahweh, to chase His dreams set before us.  This is why we are alive; it’s what makes life worth living, what gives our fumbling frames purpose.

And if I need to be given good things in order to do His will and a grumbling mouth invokes His wrath, causes Him to withhold that which is good from the people He loves, pleading with him for a “clean heart…a right spirit”, one that speaks of joy, a soul that is satisfied as with marrow (Psalms 63:5) first and foremost and always is of utmost importance.

“My God, do not give me back to myself.  Do not let me settle for anything but You.  In You I hide, escaping from my ruin.  Please do not give me back to myself.” –Rumi

Hymns of Lent: Go to Dark Gethsemane

I am so excited to share this guest post by my sister and brother-in-law. Be sure to check out Grant’s music and Beccy’s blog. Links are included below… 

Text: James Montgomery, 1825
Tune & Arrangement: Grant Adams, 2015
Click to listen:

The best way to learn something is to watch a master do it. This song follows Jesus in his final hours on earth and it invites us to watch how a master handles it when everything goes catastrophically wrong.

This song commands us:

To go there.

To watch Him.

To not to turn away…even when it gets ugly.

So that we might learn to do what He did:

to pray with our whole being,

to suffer for a cause,

 to lay down our lives

and to rise.

It’s tempting to skip over the less palatable parts of the story. “The wormwood and the gall and the pangs of his soul sustained” just doesn’t quite have the luster of pink plastic Easter eggs filled with Starburst Jelly Beans.  But this song reminds us that if we watch and follow Jesus as He is“beaten, bound, reviled [and] arraigned,” we will watch and follow Him as he rises.


The song in this post was performed and recorded by my brother-in-law Grant. In addition to managing a wind farm and keeping up with his almost 4 year old and almost 2 year old, Grant plays bass in a Minneapolis “rhythm and blues grass” band, Good Diction. He’s a songwriter known for crafting intricate and clever lyrics, which you can sample at his own music website (here).

Grant’s wife, my sister, Beccy, wrote a little about what this song is all about. Beccy blogs at about mental and relational health, social justice, realistic motherhood, and whatever else strikes at a moment when she has a moment to write about it.

Go to dark Gethsemane 
ye that feel the tempter’s power; 
your Redeemer’s conflict see, 
watch with him one bitter hour. 
Turn not from his griefs away; 
learn of Jesus Christ to pray. 

See him at the judgment hall, 
beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned; 
O the wormwood and the gall! 
O the pangs his soul sustained! 
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; 
learn of Christ to bear the cross. 

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; 
there, adoring at his feet, 
mark that miracle of time, 
God’s own sacrifice complete. 
“It is finished!” hear him cry; 
learn of Jesus Christ to die. 

Early hasten to the tomb 
where they laid his breathless clay; 
all is solitude and gloom. 
Who has taken him away? 
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes;
Savior, teach us so to rise.

Hymns of Lent: Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

Text: Isaac Watts
Tune and refrain: Rachel Henkle, 2014

Click to listen:

Here are some verses I’ve been thinking about tonight… 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8

Today was a full day. We spent the first half of the day running errands. Then this afternoon the kids and I went to the park for the first time in 2015 and came home with muddy knees and sand in our shoes. Later, I had to console a hysterical 3-year-old when we tried to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, only to discover that the DVD somehow broke in half since the last time we watched. (Yes, it’s March and my daughter is still obsessed with Rudolph…) We had baths, bedtime stories and the usual stalling requests for drinks of water and extra songs. The kids are finally asleep, but I still have a kitchen sink full of dishes to wash and a kitchen floor full of Legos that didn’t get picked up before bedtime. 

Sometimes in the midst of this everyday life, the cross seems like a distant event that happened so long ago. But this week’s hymn puts me right at the scene. The blood, the anguish, the groaning of Jesus on the cross. I need to be reminded of my helpless, hopeless condition without the love of Christ. I need to be undone by the epic love story of rescue and redemption that I am a part of, and that did not come for free. Thank you, Jesus.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

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!