• abbeydupuy

After all the preparation, prayer, rehearsal, prayer, setting up, prayer, and celebrating liturgies together (with more prayer!), we have finally arrived at Easter. The tomb is empty. Jesus is risen, and we have fifty days to celebrate this mystery at the center of our faith.

What does it mean for us that Jesus is risen, that He is alive, that death doesn't win in the end? For each of us, it means something different...and that meaning can be new every year. The invitation of the Easter season, as we celebrate and sing our Alleluias, is that we get to ponder this mystery anew and figure out what it means in our lives, right now.

We've put together a playlist of Easter Alleluias and other Easter music for your listening enjoyment this season. As you listen, think about the empty tomb. Remember that sin and death are defeated. Jesus' resurrection is our resurrection, too. Love wins. Alleluia.

Link to Easter Alleluia Playlist on Spotify

Link to Easter Alleluia Playlist on YouTube

Our musical journey through Lent has brought us to the holiest days of the year - Holy Week and the Triduum.

As we enter into this week, I searched for a text that would help us pray with the emotions that might come during this week. There is such a range of feelings we might have: warmth and affection as Jesus gathers with his disciples to wash their feet and eat a meal with them, sorrow as we keep company with him in the Garden of Gethsemane in prayer that night, bewilderment and pain at his suffering on the cross on Good Friday, and grief as he is laid in the tomb.

The important thing, I think, is that we go along for the journey, as we have been all along...so I offer this song this week for our prayer together.

The text was written as a poem by Samuel Crossman, a Puritan minister who was exiled from the Church of England, in 1664. In 1918, composer John Ireland wrote the tune, called LOVE UNKNOWN. His friend, hymnal editor Geoffrey Shaw, requested he compose a tune for the text, which he apparently did in about 15 minutes over lunch on the back of a menu.

The text follows:

My song is love unknown,
my Saviour’s love to me;
love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
that for my sake
my Lord should take
frail flesh and die?

He came from his blest throne

salvation to bestow;

but men made strange, and none

the longed-for Christ would know.

But O, my Friend,

my Friend indeed,

who at my need

his life did spend!

Sometimes they strew His way,

and His sweet praises sing;

resounding all the day

hosannas to their King.

Then 'Crucify!'

is all their breath,

and for His death

they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?

What makes this rage and spite?

He made the lame to run,

he gave the blind their sight.

Sweet injuries!

yet they at these

themselves displease,

and 'gainst him rise.

They rise, and needs will have

my dear Lord made away;

a murderer they save,

the Prince of Life they slay.

Yet cheerful He

to suffering goes,

that He His foes

from thence might free.

In life no house, no home

my Lord on earth might have;

in death no friendly tomb

but what a stranger gave.

What may I say?

Heav'n was his home;

but mine the tomb

wherein he lay.

Here might I stay and sing:

no story so divine;

never was love, dear King,

never was grief like Thine!

This is my Friend,

in Whose sweet praise

I all my days

could gladly spend.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful text and tune as a way to pray with the familiar events of this Holy Week. Blessings as we continue the journey together as a community, following Jesus, our Friend and Lord.

Sylvia Burnside sings "My Song is Love Unknown" with the New Irish Orchestra

A contemporary setting with a new tune by High Street Hymns

Here is our entire playlist for Lent and Holy Week on YouTube.

"LOVE UNKNOWN" on hymnary.org https://hymnary.org/tune/love_unknown_ireland (Accessed 9 April 2022)

I have decided to follow Jesus is a song that comes from the Assam region of India. It was made popular in the United States by Dr. Billy Graham. The song’s origins are unclear. One legend attributes it to the last words of an Indian Christian martyr, who is said to have recited these words as he died. His words were later made into a hymn by an Indian missionary, Sadhu Sundar Singh. Another source credits an Indian missionary pastor, Simon Marak, with the song, saying he used it in his missionary work because it fit well with other native religious music and that it became a theme for his ministry.

Even though hymnologists aren’t able to verify exactly how the song was created, the text has an important significance for us today:

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back

Though none go with me, I still will follow
Though none go with me, I still will follow
Though none go with me, I still will follow
No turning back, no turning back

Our faith is a gift from God, and faith in our lives is always the result of God’s grace reaching out to us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that faith is one of the cardinal virtues (along with hope and love) – meaning that it is a supernatural virtue, infused in us by God. We don’t decide on our own out of nowhere to get up and follow Jesus – it is always the initiative of the Holy Spirit that inspires our faith. Even so, in faith, our human will cooperates with God’s divine grace (CCC 155). We still have a role to play in our decision to follow Jesus with our lives.

This week as we enter the holiest days of the year, in which we remember the final events of Jesus’ life and how he suffered for each of us, it’s appropriate to remember that we always have this choice. Today, this week, we can decide to pick up the crosses of our lives and follow Jesus as he heads to Jerusalem, to the Last Supper with his disciples where he washes their feet and eats a final meal with them, to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, to his trial before Pontius Pilate, to the cross, to the grave, and, on Easter, to the other side of death.

We can go, too. Jesus is leading the way, and we can follow. That’s the invitation of this song for us this week.

Here are some different versions of this hymn to listen to and pray with this week:

A beautiful meditative version sung by Nepali musicians (Yeshu Ko Pace is the title in Nepali)

Praise and worship-style, by Marisa Frantz

Kaoma Chende, with a gospel quartet version where he sings all four parts himself (so fun to watch)

*For more information and background on this hymn, here is an in-depth blog post Dr. C. Michael Hawn, director of the Hymn Society and of the Doctor of Pastoral Music program at Perkins School of Theology.

C. Michael Hawn, “History of Hymns: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” (June 11, 2020), https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/history-of-hymns-i-have-decided-to-follow-jesus (accessed 4 April 2022).