Lent Hymns and Canticles

What Is Lent?

Lent is the 40-day period of fasting and penitence that leads up to Easter, which recalls Jesus' 40-day fast in the wilderness. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, usually in February. These Lenten Hymns and Canticles reflect the themes of fasting, penitence, and sorrow for one's sins. Scripture is from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition.

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Prayer of Manasseh

black and white image of ashes on forehead

O Lord Almighty, God of our Fathers, Of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob And of their righteous posterity

Thou who hast made heaven and earth with all their order;

Who hast shackled the sea by thy word of command, who hast confined the deep and sealed it with thy terrible and glorious name;

At whom all things shudder, and tremble before thy power,

For thy glorious splendor cannot be borne, and the wrath of thy threat to sinners is irresistible; yet immeasurable and unsearchable is thy promised mercy,

For thou art the Lord Most High, of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful, and repentest over the evils of men.

Thou, O Lord, according to thy great goodness hast promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against thee;

And in the multitude of thy mercies thou hast appointed repentance for sinners, that they may be saved.

Therefore thou, O Lord, God of the righteous, hast not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against thee, but thou hast appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner.

For the sins I have committed are more in number than the sand of the sea;

My transgressions are multiplied, O Lord, they are multiplied! I am unworthy to look up and see the height of heaven because of the multitude of my iniquities.

I am weighted down with many an iron fetter, so that I am rejected because of my sins, and I have no relief;

For I have provoked thy wrath and have done what is evil in thy sight, setting up abominations and multiplying offenses.

And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching thee for thy kindness.

I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I know my transgressions.

I earnestly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me!

Do not destroy me with my transgressions! Do not be angry with me for ever or lay up evil for me; do not condemn me to the depths of the earth.

For thou, O Lord, art the God of those who repent, and in me thou wilt manifest thy goodness; for, unworthy as I am, thou wilt save me in thy great mercy,

And I will praise thee continually all the days of my life. For all the host of heaven sings thy praise, and thine is the glory for ever. Amen.

A Song of Humility (Hosea 6:1-6)

"Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.

Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his going forth is sure as the dawn;

He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth."

What shall I do with you, O E'phraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah?

Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.

Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen.

A Song of Christ the Servant (1 Peter 2: 21b-25)

Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return

When he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen.

A Song of the Word of the Lord (Isaiah 55: 6-11)

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him, And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth,

Making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,

But it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen.

Song of God's Rich Mercy (Ephesians 2:3-7, 3:20,21)

Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, Following the desires of body and mind,

And so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us,

Even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ,

And raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

That in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Now to him who by the power at work within us, is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Glory of These Forty Days

The glory of these forty days We celebrate with songs of praise;

For Christ, by Whom all things were made, Himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw The loving God Who gave the law;

And to Elijah, fasting, came The steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight, Delivered from the lions' might;

And John, the Bridegroom's friend, became The herald of Messiah's Name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be Full oft in fast and prayer with Thee;

Our spirits strengthen with Thy grace, And give us joy to see Thy face.

O Father, Son, and Spirit blest, To thee be every prayer addressed,

Who art in threefold Name adored,

From age to age, the only Lord.

Words Attributed to Gregory I, 6th century

O Sacred Head Surrounded

O sacred head, surrounded by crown of piercing thorn!

O bleeding head, so wounded, reviled and put to scorn!

Death's pallid hue comes over you

The glow of life decays, yet angel hosts adore thee and tremble as they gaze

I see thy strength and vigor all fading in the strife, and death with cruel rigor, bereaving thee of life;

O agony and dying!

O love to sinners free!

Jesus, all grace supplying, O turn thy face on me.

In this thy bitter passion,

Good Shepherd, think of me with thy most sweet compassion,

Unworthy though I be.

Beneath thy cross abiding for ever would I rest,

In thy dear love confiding, and with thy presence blest.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)

All Glory Laud and Honor

Refrain: All glory, laud, and honor to thee, Redeemer, King! to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel, thou David's royal Son, who in the Lord's Name comest, the King and Blessed One. R

The company of angels are praising thee on high; and mortal men and all things created make reply. R

The people of the Hebrews with palms before thee went; our praise and prayer and anthems before thee we present. R

To thee before thy passion they sang their hymns of praise; to thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise. R

Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring, who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King. R Theodulph of Orleans; tr: John Mason Neale

Links and Information

Ash Wednesday Prayers

Prayers and Hymns in Preparation for Great Lent

The Litany of the Precious Blood of Jesus

The Great Litany (Anglican Use)

Seven Penitential Psalms (in English)

Seven Penitential Psalms (in Latin)

Lent Prayers and Collects



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Updated 02-22-2018