Lent Day 40: Music for Holy Week

A word of advice from experience. As much as I loved listening to my local Christian Music radio station, the occasional advertisement was always Easter-centric or said the words “He is Risen!” while I shouted: NOT YET!

Sorry, Christian Radio, but you’re kind of jumping the gun along with the rest of America here. The purpose of Lent is to remember the Passion and death of Jesus first. Catholics celebrate Easter for 50 days. There is plenty of time to celebrate, but now’s not the time. It’s like opening Christmas presents a week early!

With that in mind, I’m going to recommend some music to listen to during this week. Today, I want y’all to check out a woman named Audrey Assad and her album Fortunate Fall.

Patheos blogger Marc Barnes wrote what I think is the best recommendation for this album. But given that I’m also an Audrey Assad fan, I’m gonna give my two cents.

This album captures so much of what Lent is and what Lent centers on. The first track recalls the Exsultet, an ancient chant sung during the Easter Vigil. Ever heard of the term “Felix Culpa?” That’s Latin for “fortunate fall.” “O happy fault that gained for us so great a redeemer.” The sin of Adam led to Christ redeeming mankind as a whole, which is reflected upon in the Easter Vigil’s readings.

The second track is “Help My Unbelief.” Taking inspiration from Mark 9:24 and Doubting Thomas’s revelation, the song reflects the mindset of spiritual dryness. In this song, the person is making an effort to be faithful, but is suffering some kind of trial. How often we forget to ask the Lord for His help when we are down.

“Humble” is a song of praise to Jesus for becoming human. So many songs in Christian music speak so much of Jesus’s divinity. How many songs acknowledge His humanity? The song also asks those listening to follow in John the Baptist’s example, to let themselves decrease so that Christ can increase.

“O Happy Fault” is an interlude but worth listening to for the instrumentals and the echos of “Felix Culpa.” It’s almost meditative, recalling the Easter Vigil with gratitude and gravitas.

“Lead Me On” takes inspiration from the uber-famous Psalm 23. Although it’s a structured song (in the whole verse-chorus-verse sense), it continues the theme of gratitude grounded in humility. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, with the imagery of the psalm actually working with the subtle glow of the song. Mark Barnes sings this song’s praises better than I can, tho, so read his article linked above, please!

“I Shall Not Want” takes inspiration from a Catholic prayer called The Litany of Humility. It’s also structured in a verse-chorus-verse style, but the song is carried with just piano, stringed instruments, and backup vocals. Again, there is beauty within the simplicity of this song, which cries out with desire of deliverance from everything the world values most.

“Good to Me” is a song of praise within hard times. Happiness that is surrounded by hardships. More “spiritually high” than “Help My Unbelief,” it recalls some familiar biblical phrases from the Psalms and the Song of Solomon. It captures a martyr’s hope in such a beautiful way.

“Felix Culpa” is another instrumental interlude. It repeats the earlier “O Happy Fault,” but takes on a more joyful tone, like a sunrise on Easter Morning.

“Spirit of The Living God” is a cover of an old hymn, a prayer to the Holy Spirit. So much power behind what I am sure is a song done in a minor key. (I’m not a music major, so please, someone listen to this song and tell me if this was done in a minor key!)

“Lead Kindly Light” is based on a prayer by Cardinal Newman. It’s a prayer of a lost soul trying to find home again. It can also be about a person trying to find his path to whatever God is calling him to do. It’s the story of a journey, of a walk taken in faith and not by sight. The piano and soft vocals reflect the tone of the words. It’s not a grand gesture, like “Amazing Grace,”  but instead a quiet acquiescence to God’s will.

The last song on the album starts in a moment of silence. “You Speak” comes as a “fade to black” ending to this rich album. The chorus of the song echoes Mother Teresa’s famous quote “In the silence of the heart, God speaks.” It builds up to a wonderful crescendo before slowly fading out, like Jesus ascending into Heaven.

Listen to this album. It is awesome.

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