Oh for a Thousand Tongues

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 08:23

March 2017

In Lent we encounter many hymns with emphases on the reality of sin, on the need for repentance, and on the fruits of forgiveness.  One example relates back to the metaphysical poet, John Donne (see The Kalendar), being no. 140, Wilt thou forgive that sin, a poem of Donne’s set to music contemporary to his life, and a poem which gives a good example of the accented rhythm of speech encountered in metaphysical poetry.

The number of hymns appointed just on a seasonal basis for Lent is small, and what is striking about them is their age.  At least in the current hymnal, the Lenten theme has not resulted in newer hymns, and certain of three of the twelve seasonal hymns are from the 6th century.  Perhaps this reflects the trials of that age?  If so, how can we reflect in our own age on the universal need to turn to God?