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Sorrow and Salvation: A Playlist for Lent
March 19

Sorrow and Salvation: A Playlist for Lent

Music and remembering are intimately tied together. Just as snatch of a song overheard at a grocery store can take you back to childhood, we hope this new Lenten playlist will stir up your memories of the one who gave his lifeblood for us all.

A Selection of Advent & Christmas Songs

photo by Annie Bulger.

YouTube playlist.

Of the Father’s Love Begotten (arr. T. Schlenker)
The Roman poet Prudentius wrote this hymn about Christ in the 4th century. It was composed around the same time as the council of Nicea, which officially established the nature of Christ as fully God and fully man. The hymn tune dates to the 13th century. It's performed here by the St. Martin's chamber choir. 

Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is alpha and omega;
He the source, the ending he,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore.

 Oh that birth forever blessed,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving
Bore the Savior of our race.
And the babe, the world’s redeemer,
First revealed his sacred face,
Evermore and evermore.

 This is he whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord,
Whom the voices of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Now he shines, the long expected;
Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore.

 Oh ye heights of heaven adore him,
Angel hosts his praises sing,
Powers, dominions bow before him,
And extol our God and king.
Let no tongue on earth keep silent;
Every voice in concert ring,
Evermore and evermore.

 Christ to thee, with God the Father,
And O Holy Ghost with thee,
Hymn and chant and high Thanksgiving
And unwearied praises be,
Honor, glory and dominion
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore.

Hymn of the Word
A poetic translation of John 1 by Evansville missionary Nick Holovaty.


O Come O Come, Emmanuel (arr. Aaron Shust)
Here is a comtemporary twist on a prayer Christians have chanted and sung since the 8th century.


“Bozrah” is an early American folk hymn. It looks forward to the “second Advent”, the final coming of Christ. Here, our missionaries and others perform a version of the song as part of a covenant celebration in 2014.


Es Ist Ein Ros' Entsprungen (Praetorius)
The text of this Advent and Christmas hymn was discovered in a 16th century manuscript in a German monastery. It's performed here by the Gesualdo Six. 

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came a floweret bright
Amid the cold of winter, when half spent was the night.

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it, the rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it, the Virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright
She bore to men a Savior, when half spent was the night.

O Jesu, till our parting out of this vale of woe,
O with thy help escort us, there to the hall of joy
Within thy Father’s realm.
There may we ever praise thee; God, this on us bestow.

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
This African American spiritual references the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25. Blues singer Mississippi Fred McDowell sings in this 1959 recording, “Keep your lamps trimmed and burning. See what the lord has done. Children, don’t get worried! See what the Lord has done.”


 O Come O Come Emmanuel (arr. Shaw)
A choral rendition of “O Come O Come Emmanuel" performed by the Robert Shaw chorale.


Concerto grosso in G minor, op. 6, no. 8, “Christmas Concerto” (Corelli)
Now an instrumental interlude: a short orchestral piece composed at Christmastime by 17th century Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli.


Even As We
A song of wonder and thanksgiving to the Lord for becoming one of us, written by Mary Ann Grauvogel (South Bend) in 1986. It's performed here by employees of the LaSalle Company, who made this video as a Christmas gift to their customers.


And the Glory of the Lord (from A Soulful Celebration)
This is a chorus from the 1992 album Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, a gospel and soul remix of Handel's well-beloved Messiah. This track is performed by Diane Reeves. The text is, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:5)


Magnificat Anima Mea (John Rutter)
Here is a setting of the Magnificat, Mary's exuberant prayer in response to Elizabeth's greeting in Luke 2, by English composer John Rutter.  “My soul magnifies the Lord. My spirit exults in God my Savior .  .  . For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” 


Navidad Nuestra: La Peregrinacion (Ramirez)
Navidad Nuestra is a Christmas cantata by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez. It It sets the nativity story in the South American countryside, through its Latin melodies and instrumentation and its text. Joseph and Mary travel through the pampas on their burro, and the wise men bring honey and a poncho made of alpaca wool. In this movement, Joseph and Mary make their pilgrimage to Bethlehem across the frozen countryside.

On the road, on the road, Joseph and Mary,
 through the frozen pampas, nettles and thistles,
On the road, on the road, cutting across the countryside,
There is no shelter nor inn, keep walking. 

On the road, on the road, carnation of the air,
If no one will shelter you, where will you be born?
Where will you be born, little growing flower,
 frightened little dove, wide awake cricket? 

On the road, on the road, Joseph and Mary,
With a hidden God no one knew.

On the road, on the road, the pilgrims,
Lend me a hovel for my child.
 On the road, on the road, suns and moons,
 eyes like almonds, olive skin.

Oh little field donkey, oh red ox,
my child is coming, make room for him.
Only a little manger of straw protects me,
two friendly spirits, the clear moon.


Cantique de Noel (A. Adams)
You may know this French carol, composed in the 1850s, as "O Holy Night". This is the original French text, sung by Mario Pelchat. 

Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
When the God-man descends unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The whole world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Savior.
   People, on your knees, await your deliverance.
   Noel, Noel, here is the Redeemer,
   Noel, Noel, here is the Redeemer!

May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the kings of the Orient there.
The King of Kings born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones today, proud of your greatness,
   It is to your pride that God preaches.
   Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
   Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

The Redeemer has broken every bond;
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave;
Love unites those whom iron had chained.
Who will tell him of our gratitude?
It is for us all that he is born, he suffers and dies.
   People, stand up! Sing of your deliverance.
   Noel, Noel, sing of the Redeemer,
   Noel, Noel, sing of the Redeemer!


How Far is it To Bethlehem (arr. S. Paulus)
This lullaby-like carol was written by Frances Chesterton, wife of G.K. Chesterton and arranged here by Minnesotan composer Stephen Paulus.

How far is it to Bethlehem, not very far?
Shall we find the stable room lit by a star?
Can we see the little child, is He within?
If we lift the wooden latch, may we go in?
May we stroke the creatures there, oxen or sheep?
May we peek like them and see Jesus asleep?
If we touch His tiny hand, will He awake?
Will He know we've come so far just for His sake?

Great kings have precious gifts and we have naught;
Little smiles and little tears are all we brought.
For all weary children Mary must weep.
Here, on his bed of straw sleep, children, sleep.

God in his mother's arms, babes in the byre
Sleep, as they sleep who find their heart's desire.


Christmas Cantata: Quem Vidistis Pastores? (Pinkham)
The first movement of a short cantata by 20th century American composer Daniel Pinkham. It tells of the shepherds coming from the manger, “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.” (Luke 2:20)

Who have you seen, shepherds?
Speak, and tell us who has appeared on earth.
‘"We saw a new-born child and a choir of angels praising the Lord." Alleluia.

Shout for Joy (Odetta)
We end with a joyful shout with this spiritual, performed by Odetta. In good times and bad, Lord, we shout for joy!

Oh Lord, shout for joy! (4x)

Mary had a baby, shout for joy!
Mary had a baby, shout for joy!
Born in a stable, shout for joy!
Born in a stable, shout for joy!

They laid him in a manger, shout for joy!
Laid him in a manger, shout for joy!
They named him King Jesus, shout for joy!
Named him King Jesus, shout for joy!

He was the prince of peace,
Mighty counselor,
King of kings,
That Christmas, in the morning.

Shepherds came to see him, shout for joy!
Wise men brought him presents, shout for joy!
King Herod tried to find him, shout for joy!
They went away to Egypt, shout for joy!

Mary rode a donkey, shout for joy!
Joseph walked beside them, shout for joy!
Angels watching over, shout for joy!
Angels watching over, shout for joy!


  1. Deb Merriner says:

    What a great selection. Thank you for curating and posting lyrics as well.
    May I offer another song, one of my favorites of the season? “Mary Did You Know” (especially this version)

  2. Rachele Ng says:

    Thank you for this beautiful selection of Advent and Christmas music. It's good to hear "Lo, How a Rose" and "O Holy Night" in the languages in which they were written. During our 2018 road trip from Saskatoon to Ottawa, where we visited families in Servant Branch, Rockford and South Bend; I was able to attend a concert in Ottawa where John Rutter conducted the Magnificat. I was wonderful. On our family Advent playlist is also "Ready My Heart" written by Lois Shuford and covered by Winnipeg musician Steve Bell from his 1995 Album The Feast of Seasons. It sings of Christ's advent in us!

  3. David Smedberg says:

    Love it! I immediately had to go listen to the whole album of "Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration". That's something else.

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