Advent 3: The Branch

Kingdoms fall from might;
panelled houses cannot keep out the flood.
The humblest stump brings forth the branch
and a little child leads the animals’ dance.
As the baby rests its head in the nest,
the greenest hope turns to solid twig,
and then as firm and fixed branch.
Reach out: these arms reach out to hold,
to gather in what scatters far.
A little child shall lead; a man
shall climb the rugged beam.

“And can it be that I should gain…”: Streaming Page CXVI’s “Lent to Maundy Thursday”

tumblr_inline_n1kjrsZuiP1qbj8fsWhat is the first note of Lent? Ash Wednesday – this year on March 5th, next Wednesday in fact, will in most churches sound a low and melancholy tone, pregnant with penitence and reflection. But contemporary hymnsters, Page CXVI, begin their “Lent to Maundy Thursday” with jubilation: Charles Wesley’s classic “And can it be that I should gain”, a reminder to all for whom the forthcoming season of Lent is a time of repentance and reflection, that Christ’s is our one sufficient sacrifice.

For the next week at The Consolations of Writing, we will be streaming an advanced preview of the next instalment in Page CXVI’s sequence of songs working through the church year. The album will be released on Tuesday 4th March. You can find out more about the album and related projects through the band’s blog here. Be sure to buy your own copy of the album when it’s released.

As an extra feature for these seven days, I will also be releasing a number of pre-Lent poems: a chance to think about who Jesus is and how He changes lives. Here is the first, to accompany the first song from “Lent to Maundy Thursday”. Happy listening.

Wednesday Before Lent

The Cross breaks expectations. Mine I bring
limply, tacitly, proudly – as though I
can change time and history to my ends.

And yet You, ever surprising,
rebuke and restore in seamless, swift
defiant fulfilment of law within Your flesh.

And can it be? Your eyes, staring deep
into souls' past and posterity, rich
with wisdom’s grace, know full well it can.