I've been highlighting Lenten hymns in my weekly newsletter to College Church Musicians. "For the Living of These Days" is the title of that series. It's a blog I could keep up weekly while teaching in the first half of the spring semester. Could because I sort of had to, as that is a part of my regular communication with the people who make music for worship here.
Concurrently, I have been reading on a daily basis from Christ in the Psalms by Patrick Henry Reardon. Each morning I read a single psalm, followed by Reardon's brief commentary on the same. Commentary is the best word for these reflections. They are devotional, liturgical, historical, scholarly, pastoral; together and by turns. Writing from an Orthodox pulpit (so to speak), the pages are richly ecumenical in the best sense of the term. The biblical theology that informs his understanding of the Psalms would be right at home in the pulpit of College Church. But more than simply learning more about the psalms, I am slowly learning to pray in the vocabluary of the psalms, 2 small pages of devotion per day.
But to the point, last week my slow walk through the Psalms brought me through the Hallel psalms, certainly the psalms that Jesus and his disciples sang in the upper room at the Passover meal. And most likely the source of the "hymn" that they sang as they left that room on their way to the garden. Yes, I should return to these psalms again during Passion Week. But that they have fallen to me now during Lent, along with my own devotional highlighting of Lenten hymns, has been good for my spirit.
As Spring in Chicago slowly emerges, these psalms and hymns are doing some much needed work in me. Along with my pastor's preaching of "the cross," I could hardly have a more rich season if I were in a church that "observed" Lent!