40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: What Lenten Hymns Teach

children singing

Today’s Lenten activity is an opportunity for catechists to reach those young people who are more musically inclined, tapping into the musical/rhythmic intelligence of some of your students.

What Lenten Hymns Teach

  • Ask the young people to identify some of their favorite songs that they keep on their smartphone or other digital player.
  • Explain that some songs and collections are labeled with warnings that the content is “explicit.” Tell the young people that, for better or worse, songs teach us, and that songs with explicit lyrics can teach that certain unacceptable behaviors are OK.
  • Tell the young people that, by the same token, songs can teach us positive messages. If possible, name a few contemporary songs with positive messages.
  • Point out that at Mass, we sing songs (hymns) that teach us about our faith and that, during the season of Lent, we sing some traditional Lenten hymns.
  • Arrange to have some hymnals from the church on hand, and invite the young people to locate some of the following examples of Lenten hymns.
        • “Stabat Mater” (“At the Cross Her Station Keeping”)
        • “O Sacred Head Surrounded”
        • “Be with Me Lord”
        • “The Glory of These Forty Days”
        • “Hosea”
        • “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”
        • “Jesus, Remember Me”
        • “Attende Domine (Hear, O Lord)”
        • “Forty Days and Forty Nights”
          (I’m sure there are many other wonderful Lenten hymns that I’ve not mentioned, but liturgical music is not my area of expertise. Don’t limit yourself to my list! And by all means, send me your suggestions!)
  • Arrange the young people in groups of three or four, and assign a song or songs to each group. Tell them to summarize what the song teaches us about the season of Lent. If you didn’t know anything about Lent and all you had was this song, what would you learn about Lent from it?
  • If possible, arrange to play recordings of some of these hymns, or arrange to have a choir member, cantor, or liturgical musician join you to play/sing these songs for the young people.
  • After each song is played, have the young people report what the song teaches.

Make the most of your Lenten experience with seasonal books from Loyola Press.

About Joe Paprocki 2302 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

6 Comments on 40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: What Lenten Hymns Teach

  1. Hi Joe.

    I teach 7th grade at MHR and have become very uninspired. Thank you so much for sharing this idea. This will give them opportunity to reflect on Lent in a way that is meaningful for them. I am going to use this as one activity for Monday.

    Keep on bringing inspiration to our Catechists and inspiring each of us to do God’s work to bring Christ to our Children.

    • Janeen, thanks for sharing and for your kind words. It is not easy to stay inspired all the time as a catechist. We need the support of our catechetical peers and, of course, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray that all catechists find both!!!

  2. Some suggestions of Contemporary Catholic Music and Musicans:
    Matt Maher – 40 days is my new Lenten theme song! He is also great at taking some traditional hymns and putting an amazing modern twist on them that make them beautiful but still true to the original – Litany, Kyrie, Lamb of God, Adoration (Pangua Lingua – I think!)
    Jenny Pixler – her version of Sacred Silence is amazing!
    Tom Kendzia
    Josh Blakely
    Sarah Hart – everything!

    Not Catholic, but amazing Christian artists:
    Casting Crowns – If we are the Body is great for social justice!
    Chris Tomlin – Come Home Running, our school’s Lenten theme 2 years ago
    Matt Redman – Heart of Worship
    Paul Baloche – Rising, Offering
    Twila Paris – How Beautiful (great communion song, and the wedding version is just perfect!)

    Just thought I’d offer some suggestions! Matt Maher is a great artist to transition kids to contemporary religious music because his sound is very modern but he is the only artist I know who can use the word ‘transubstantiation’ in a song and still sound cool!

  3. I love Fernando Ortega, though non-Cathoic. His songs are very simple yet deep. Among his collections, I love “Give Me Jesus” the most. A Catholic artist, John Angotti, has some very good songs as well. My high school students love “Jesus” and “Feed My Lambs.”

    Joe, thanks for everything you have written and all the resources you have shared with us. It makes sharing the faith a lot easier and more interesting! Blessings to you always.

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