Mar 01, 2024 Print This Article

Dear alumni

It’s a controversial topic, but I’m just going to say it. Lenten hymns are wonderful.

Not everyone agrees, I know. When I mention how much I love Lent and its hymns, reactions vary. For some, they are too slow and somber. Others think these songs wallow, in an overly-sentimental way, in our guilt for causing the pains that Jesus endured.

But in my experience, from my childhood days to the present, these hymns have drawn me to my Savior and brought my Savior’s love to me. Year after year, they have planted two great truths in my heart. Apart from Jesus, I am a guilty and condemned sinner, without hope or excuse. But I have a Savior, who loves me so dearly that He has borne my guilt, suffered my punishment and rescued me forever.

Perhaps it was the repeated singing of these hymns that drew me to study for the ministry. I knew that I owed everything to this loving, suffering Redeemer! I wanted others, too, to know His self-giving love and pardon! And Easter hymns drew me toward the ministry. And Christmas hymns. And my faithful pastors. And my parents and older brother. I am thankful for all of these. And I am thankful to have been called to such a beautiful vocation, to serve Christ’s church in the Office of the Holy Ministry.

During this season of Lent, may our eyes be drawn to Jesus — to our beautiful, mighty Savior — through His Word and Sacraments. That is just where the Lenten hymns are pointing us: to Jesus.

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder!
The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander;
The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him,
Who would not know Him.
(LSB 439, v. 4)

If my sins give me alarm
And my conscience grieve me,
Let Your cross my fear disarm;
Peace of conscience give me.
Help me see forgiveness won
By Your holy passion.
If for me He slays His Son,
God must have compassion!
(LSB 440, v. 5)

Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ, the Rock of our salvation,
Is the name of which we boast;
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.
(LSB 451, v. 4)

What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever!
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never,
Outlive my love for Thee.
(LSB 449, v. 5)

A blessed Lent to you, in Jesus’ love,

Thomas J. Egger