Songs and Hymns for Ash Wednesday (2 March 2022)

  • CH716 / VU374 / FFS10 / SFFS 2128 / W&R477 / Cha575 Come and find the quiet centre (Shirley Murray) A good song for the beginning of worship. I would prefer to sing this to one of the more traditional melodies offered (Tune 1 in FFS) or BEACH SPRING (TiS 493). Lyrics. New words to old tunes.
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Gather everyone with a trumpet to seek forgiveness

  • Online Resource / BUC Song Project Why do we listen and fail to hear / Lament - for a people with a people with a dulled heart (Shawn Whelan) This lament, and its wailing ooooh would fit quite well with this passage. Lyrics & sheet music. Good for kids 
  • AA085 Let justice roll down like a river (Colin Gibson) Excellent song, and very easy to sing. Lyrics and sheet music. Good for kids.
  • AoV1-030 / GA213 / G(II)282 / GC386 / GC(II)405 / G(3)484 / Lau842 Come back to me / Hosea (Gregory Norbet) Quite beautiful song of return to God. Nice sung sound sample. Lead sheet.
  • ATOK 331 Turn to me with all your heart (John Ylvisaker) I like this one, unfortunately I can't find lyrics or sound samples online.
  • StS033 / GA515 / G(II)516 / GC716 / GC(II)709 / G(3)810 Let Justice Roll Like a River (Marty Haugen) The song is a quite simple gospel song, particularly if you use a soloist for the verses if this is new to you. Lead sheet. Sound sample
  • GC(II)755 / G(3)864 O the weary world is trudging / The trumpet in the morning (Rory Cooney) Song of release of prisoners and the trumpet's blast. Sound sample. Lead sheet.
  • GA304 /  G(II)283 / GC389 / GC(II)410 / G(3)478 / Lau193 Return to God with all your heart (Marty Haugen)  "Return to God with all your heart, the source of grace and mercy" Verses may need a cantor. Lead sheet. Sound sample.
  • Taizé / A&M834 / G(3)959 / SP323 / Lau221 God is forgiveness / Bóg jest miłością (Taize community) "God is forgiveness, love and do not fear". A simple Taize chant which seems to suit this reading quite well. Sheet music, lyrics in many languages, sound samples.
  • Online Resource / Tune In / NCYC '07: Forgive us now (Dave Brown). “As we forgive may we be healed, as we reach out….” An excellent ballad seeking forgiveness in a sinful world. Free downloadable songbook.
Alternative Hebrew Scripture: Isaiah 58:1-12
The fast that God seeks is to release the oppressed, share with the hungry, bring the poor into your homes 
  • CH763 / MV193 God bless to us our bread (Traditional Argentinian) A lovely simple grace for meals and for communion. More Voices has Spanish and French lyrics as well as English. "God bless to us our bread, and give bread to all those who are hungry, and hunger for justice to those who are fed. God bless to us our bread". This would be very appropriate if you are celebrating communion this week. Sound sample (Track 1). 
  • VU109 /  82Hml-145 Now quit your care and anxious fear (Percy Dearmer) A lovely joyful tune for Lent. Good, realistic, although slightly old-fashioned words. "Arise, arise, arise and make a paradise!" This could be sung through the whole Lenten season. Lyrics.
  • TiS 657 / CH263 / VU700 / A&M559 / AA50 / CP(E) 447 / Cha656 / SP242 God of freedom God of justice (Shirley Murray) Powerful lyrics. Can be sung to either TREDEGAR (new, but not too hard) or PICARDY (very familiar). New words to old tunes. Lyrics and sheet music.
  •  CH659 / MV173 / StJ / A&M566 / G(3)824 / W&R389 / SP251 / StF712 Put peace into each other’s hands (Fred Kaan) Good words for communion; tune is quite simple and flows nicely. Slow sound sample, sheet music with lyrics. Good for kids  
  • CH488 / AA130 Teach us O loving heart of Christ (Shirley Murray) Good, powerful words seeking forgiveness for those things we have not done or said. The tune is new, but fairly simple. Lyrics. 
  • GA304 /  G(II)283 / GC389 / GC(II)410 / G(3)478 / Lau193 Return to God with all your heart (Marty Haugen)  "Return to God with all your heart, the source of grace and mercy" Verses may need a cantor. Lead sheet. Sound sample
  • CH195 / StS053 / AA061 Here to the house of God we come (Shirley Murray) Good honest and challenging words and a simple, but unusual tune. Lyrics.
  • Online Resource Hear the message we now are proclaiming / El mensaje que hoy proclamamos (Eleazar Torregosa) This jubilant Colombian song of liberty and new life for the poor and suffering would fit well with God's care for the Israelites. Free sheet music
  • Online Resource Fast from fear and feast on love / The fast that love has chosen (Amanda Udis-Kessler) Positive words about choosing what we fast from, and what we feast on. It's quite wordy, so I would suggest using it in segments during the service, possibly a bit slower than the recording (though I do like the funky bass). I'd encourage you to get your musicians to sing it as an offering for the congregation, since sometimes the words are tricky to fit in. Lyrics. Free sheet music
Psalm 51:1-17
A Prayer for forgiveness and a new heart
You might like to sing a Kyrie.
  • BUC Song Project Broken (Elaine Loukes) A gentle song for tired pilgrims. Recording and lyrics.
  • Iona (SBL) / MV068 / G(II)405 / GC581 / GtG578 / PfAS009A Kyrie Guarany / On the poor, on the poor / Oré poriajú verekó (Pablo Sosa / Guarani people) A simple Kyrie from Paraguay; This is our current favourite at Brunswick. The English translation varies depending on the source (we don't sing On the Poor). Sound sample in Guarani. Sound sample in Greek (Hey, that's my family singing!)  Good for kids.
  • Online Resource Open my heart (Ana Hernandez) A beautiful 3 part chant, which also works as a single part chant. Sheet music. Youtube of the song being taught and sung in 3 parts.  
  • Online Resource / Tune In / NCYC '07 Forgive us now (Dave Brown) An excellent ballad. "Forgive us now, O mother love for all the idols we have built, For all the time we’ve worshiped there in company of dark despair. Forgive us mother of all hope”. Free downloadable songbook and sound samples
  • Iona (Sent By the Lord) / MV066 Senzenina? / What have we done? (South African) This beautiful chant from South Africa asks the question that we often ask when things go wrong beyond belief. It's important to know what the song means when singing it. If you have some part-singers in your congregation, this would be particular good. It's good to let people ask this question. It is also on the soundtrack for "The Power of One" so you could also play the recorded music if appropriate. Sound sample. Free sheet music. Maybe this could work as a Psalm response?
  • MV015 / GA186 Holy Sacred Spirit (Monica Brown) Gentle chant, which would work well at the start of the service. Can be used without the cantor part. "Holy Sacred Spirit, breathe your breath on us". Youtube (VERY SLOW) Good to help kids settle.  
  • STB043 Lord we did not live up to your teachings / Amra tomar adesh rupe (Bart Shaha) A Bengali Kyrie. The translation is good, and quite challenging. This will need to be taught; it could be sung in Bengali, because (like a Kyrie) it's repetitive.
  • AoV1-158 / GA438 Create a new heart Holy Lord / A new heart for a new world (Monica O'Brien / Trish Watts) Very simple melody, excellent words "Create a new heart Holy Lord, beckon our lives through your word, open our eyes to your call, United as one for your world". Lyrics and slightly odd sound sample. 
  • TiS 712 / AoV2-021 / ATE 269 / The tide has turned songbook Create in me / us a clean heart O God (Digby Hannah) A big favourite in our congregation, and a big favourite of mine. Lyrics & sound sample.
  • GA040 Create in Me a Clean Heart O God (Monica O'Brien) Nice refrain and simple cantor part for this Psalm.
  • GtG423 / W&R378 / PfAS051H Create in Me a Clean Heart O God (John Carter) A very simple, and repetitive version of the Psalm. Lyrics and sheet music sample
  • GC(II)409 / G(3)477 Lord Jesus Christ son of the living God (Carol Browning) A simple chant based on "The Jesus Prayer" with a beautiful (and optional) cantor which is really worth using. Nice chords! Nice sound sample and sheet music sample Sound sample  Lead sheet.    
  • Cha743 Create in me a clean heart O God (Carl Mueller) Very simple refrain based on a choral work, with a responsive reading. Here's a recording of the choral work.
  • PfAS051I Lord Have Mercy (Kathleen Hart Brumm) A simple call and response Kyrie. Instrumental sheet music. Good for kids if you sing it with some energy.
  • GtG431 / SFFS 2134 Forgive Us Lord / Perdon Senor (Jorge Lockward / Raquel Mora Martínez) Call and response prayer of confession. Recording.
  • NCH784 Create in Me a clean heart (Emma Lou Diemer) Easy to sing. Nice words.   
  • Online Resource Create in Me a pure Heart O God (Bruce Harding) A nice round, with an optional descant part.  Good for kids. Free sheet music . 
  • Iona (Love and Anger) / StS067 / PfAS051G / STB120 Have mercy on us Lord / Khudaya rahem kar (Pakistan) A nice alternative. It would be nice to get your congregation to sing something from South Asia. PfAS uses only the first line as a Psalm refrain, which may be the simplest approach for Anglo congregations to dip their toes into South Asian melodies. Lyrics also in Urdhu, but works well in English too. Youtube
  • O Tender God, Have Mercy (Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan) A gentle, modern version of the Kyrie. Sound sample, lyrics and theology
  • NCH589 / VU679 Let there be light O God of hosts! (Frances Wheeler Davis) Hopeful words seeking an end to war and unity and understanding between nations. Verse two "Open our lips!" Lyrics. History.  
  • ATOK 399 Holding out your hand (Gerry Holmes) I like this one. Good for kids.
  • Psalm Project - Sharing the Road Wash Me Clean (Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan) A nice, gentle reworking of the Psalm. Might be good to ask a musician to sing this one. Available here.
  • TiS 729 / Iona (HSNW) Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy upon us (John Bell) A very very simple call and response chant.
  • ATOK 354 / ELW801 / SFFS 2152 / GtG695 / SP&P128 / W&R373 / PfAS051A / ZSS178 / Srce95 / MP069 Change my heart O God / Cambiame Senor (Eddie Espinosa) A mushy old favourite. Sound sample
  • Online Resource Create in Me (Tom Keesecker) A lovely choral piece. Listen to the full sound sample, it just gets better and better. Sound sample, PDF sample, and purchasing options.
  • Online Resource Make a new heart (Richard Bruxvoort Colligan) A simple chorus just right for joining in on, and good choruses that could be sung by a cantor or a leader. Sound sample, lyrics and purchasing options
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Be reconciled. Despite afflictions, Paul has much; having nothing, but possessing everything.
  • TiS 607 / AoV2-126 / ATN 95 / CH528 / VU684 / StJ / A&M725 / SFFS 2171 / HPP406 / GtG753 / G(II)524 / GC726 / GC(II)721 / G(3)828 / CP(E)519/ W&R587 / Srce 462 / Lau898 / StF707 / MP456 Make me a channel of your peace (Sebastian Temple). Lovely. Nice if you can just start a capella...  Youtube video of Sinead O'Connor singing it and lyrics and chords.
  • NCH495 / HPP443 / GtG761 / PH343 / W&R581 / Cha453 Called as partners in Christ's service (Jane Parker Huber) A good song of commitment - particularly good if you are commissioning people to new roles this week, and good for any other service too. Sung to a standard tune. Lyrics.
  • CH527 / A&M717 / SP290 / 82Hml-593 Lord make us servants of your peace (James Quinn) A nice alternative to "make me a channel of your peace". This is sung to the very familiar tune "O Waly Waly". It is also sung in the plural (us and we rather than Me and I), which is nice too. Lyrics can be found here
  • ATOK 390 Put on love every day, never hide your love away (Mary Lou Walker) A fun song for kids; probably hard to fit into a solemn Ash Wednesday service, though! Lyric video. Good for kids.
  • TiS 414 / CH616 / UMH192 / VU582 / HPP134 / PH433 / GC550 / CP(E) 198 / Cha257 / StF398 There's a Spirit in the Air (Brian Wren) A good song of getting the business of following Christ done. Speaking out, caring for others, being changed. Good, joyful tune too. Lyrics and sheet music.  
  • WoV659 O Sun of Justice / Jesu Dulcis Memoria (Plainsong) I really like these words. They can also be sung to TALLIS CANON if you get nervous about Plainsong.New words to old tunes.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Don't show off about fasting etc.
  • TiS 686 / ATE 292 Lord Jesus we belong to you / Because we bear your name (Robin Mann). A straightforward song with a refrain of "because we bear your name". Lyrics.
  • Taizé / TiS 739 / AoV2-041 / ATOK 404 / VU290 / GA269 / SFFS 2054 / GtG820 / G(II)451 / GC639 / GC(II)626 / G(3)733 / CP568 / W&R421 / URW388 / Lau947 / LUYH444/ VF088 Nothing Can Trouble / Nada te turbe (Theresa of Avila / Taizé) Excellent and quite well known Taizé chant. Spanish lyrics are not too hard for non-Spanish speakers. Sheet music, sound samples, lyrics and translations. Good for kids. 
General Ash Wednesday songs:
  • NCH186 / VU105 / G(II)280 / GC381 / GC(II)392 / G(3)468 / RS539 / URW172 Dust and ashes touch our face (Brian Wren). The words to this hymn are very challenging. The tune is good. Lyrics and sheet music.
  • G(3)489 Sign us with ashes (Laura Bringle / Tony Alonso) A good refrain with verses that you can use when ashes are signed.  Sheet music sample.
  • Online resource From Dust to Dust (Bruce Harding) A simple song which can be sung as a chant or a round. Includes Kyries. Sheet music. 
  • ATAR626 / VU113 To the desert Jesus came / Together through the valley (Linnea Good) A good contemporary hymn, with a quite classically beautiful tune, for the start of Lent. A song about going together through the wilderness of Lent to Easter. Sound samples and some lyrics.
  • Recorded Music Beautiful Things (Gungor) A sweet and very popular song. "You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust".... Not so much a congregational song, although it's not difficult, unless everyone knows it well. It's not hard to play, so if you have good musicians, they may like to give it a go. It could also work to just sing the chorus as a chant.  Youtube with lyrics. Guitar instructions. Good for teenagers
  • Online resource With these ashes (Kathy Douglass) A lovely simple song that would work well to be sung during the imposition of ashes. Sound sample. PDF (thanks to Kathy for sharing this). 
  • Online resource We are children of the Earth (Richard Bruxvoort Colligan). This song is based on Psalm 90, and would be appropriate for the anointing with ashes, or other reflective moments in your service.  Sound sample, lyrics and an entire Ash Wednesday order of worship
  • Online resource Mark us with the sign of life and death (Richard Bruxvoort Colligan) A positive song emphasizing our part in the community of believers and as one with the earth. Sound sample, lyrics and purchasing options
You may also like to use a Kyrie. Here's a list of them.


Unknown said...

Great suggestions. I also love "Ashes" which is in the ELW.

Ian Render said...

Here's a larger version of the lead sheet for Sign Us With Ashes (Alonso):

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions! I have a few others.

Return to the Lord (Paul Tate)
Mercy, O God (Francis Patrick O'Brien)
Change our Hearts (Rory Cooney)

All can be found in Gather 3.

Unknown said...

Is it ok to sing holy darkness in communion for ash Wednesday?

Lectionary Singer (Natalie Sims) said...

Yes, although the lyrics seem more Advent-like to me.

Anonymous said...

The links for Bruce Harding's music don't work. His music is available at
Create in Me a Pure Heart
Dust to Dust

Lectionary Singer (Natalie Sims) said...

Thank you Anonymous person - I've updated those links!