We simply cannot fathom the depth of the love that God has for us. We can only say “thank you” for that love, made known to us in the selfless life of Jesus Christ. Words cannot express what the life of Jesus has done for our world, for all of humankind and all of creation. Songs have been sung, scriptures have been written, monuments have been carved, and churches have been erected all to glorify God in Jesus Christ. But nothing comes close to compare to the glory that God enfleshed in Jesus Christ. On this Good Friday, all of creation mourns for the pain that Jesus endured as he was tortured and put to death on a cross, in deep humiliation and pain. We cannot say anything that will suffice. We can only say “thank you.”
There is a green hill far away,
outside a city wall,
where our dear Lord was crucified
who died to save us all.
We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.
He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.
There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin,
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in.
O dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.
That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives according to thy holy Word, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
This is an excerpt from The Great Litany, one of the longest and, in my opinion, most beautiful prayers in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. This litany is often chanted on the first Sunday of Lent…and every year, I find myself in awe of the innumerable ways in which we as humans fail to earn God’s grace. We really are sinful, helpless creatures. I’m not trying to sound depressing or anything…it’s just truly amazing if you think about it. Our very existence relies on God. And yet we continuously fail to live up to the example of God in Jesus Christ. We are blessed creatures that God has already forgiven. Think about that! It’s pretty awesome! Be thankful that we do not have to earn grace! Otherwise, none of us would earn it!
If you are interested in the full text of the Great Litany, read it here. For a brief history, visit this website. And you can hear the entire litany chanted in the clip below.
This year, I joined the choir at my church. As a child I always wanted to join the choir, but I was too shy and timid to actually sing in front of people.
Now that I’m an adult, I’ve done a 180º so to speak, in that I am totally confident speaking, and evening singing, in front of people. In the few short months I’ve been in the choir, we’ve sung some wonderful hymns and pieces that range from the middle ages up to the modern age. This past Sunday, on the first Sunday of Lent, we sang Adam Lay Ybounden, a piece written in England in the fifteenth century (the words are in Middle English). The tune of the hymn is one of the most difficult ones I’ve performed in the choir this year.
Though I wasn’t able to record us singing it, I found this piece from the Choir of King’s College in Cambridge, and it sounds very close to the version we sang. I hope you enjoy this piece!
Adam lay ybounden, bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter thought he not too long.
And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
As clerkes finden written in their book.
Ne had the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
Ne had never our lady abeen heavené queen.
Blessed be the time that apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen Deo Gracias!