May we be shaped by the songs of the cross

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What language should I borrow
to thank you, dear friend,
for this, your dying pain,
your endless pity?

Every year during Lent and Holy Week, I find myself chanting this question, day after day, over and over again. This line from “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” captures the utter silence I feel contemplating the Cross. How I see Christ there, wounded and suffering. As I consider the deep, deep love of Jesus that moved him to die for me and, indeed, for the whole world. My own words seem meager and inadequate in response to the magnitude of this sacrifice. So I borrow the language to thank him.

We all do it and what a gift it is. We borrow the rich language of early Christian poetry, hymnodies and revival meetings, spirituals sung in defiance of injustice. And we hear, expressed in the music itself, truths that transcend words: sorrow and sacrifice, conviction and devotion, victory and joy.

The songs of the Cross give form and voice to the resounding response of our souls. When we sing them, consider them and pray them, these songs help us to understand the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice. They express the Good News that reverberates even in the darkest times of Jesus’ passion—and in the darkest times of our own lives.

Each article in this CT devotional resource for the season of Lent and Easter draws on a piece of music to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus – to wrestle with difficult questions, to meditate on key moments in the passion of Christ, to delve into the mystery of salvation, and to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

As we behold the wondrous cross, let this borrowed language express our own adoration as we fall before Jesus in gratitude and thanks to the Savior who is truly our dearest friend.


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