Yesterday I received a question from a worship leader about what kinds of songs to sing on Ash Wednesday. My answer to him wasn’t terribly profound or detailed, but since Ash Wednesday is this week, I thought I’d share my response here in case it’s helpful to anyone else:
I’ve always struggled with picking songs for Ash Wednesday myself.
I think that people wrongly think that Ash Wednesday/Lent is about self-determination to grit their teeth and give up chocolate for 40 days to show God how much they love him and impress him. I think Lent works better when it’s seen as a season to cherish Jesus more.
So, I know this sounds simple, but really any song on the glory of Jesus and his finished work. This goes against what some people want on Ash Wednesday. They want to hear/sing things about something THEY’RE going to do. Determination. I try to make a point of avoiding those songs and helping people understand there’s nothing to be gained by focussing on our own efforts.
So, in summary, pick songs about Jesus for Ash Wednesday. And Lent. And Easter. And the rest of the year too, I suppose.