Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days
Lord! Who throughout these forty days For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins And close by Thee to stay.
As Thou with Satan didst contend, And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight, In Thee to conquer sin.
As Thou didst hunger bear, and thirst, So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live By Thy most holy Word.
And through these days of penitence, And through Thy Passion-tide, Yea, evermore in life and death, Jesu! With us abide.
Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering over past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last!
Words: Claudia F. Hernaman, 1873
(Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12-13; Lk. 4:1-13) Music: USA folk melody; arr. by Annabel Morris Buchanan, 1938; harm. by Charles H. Webb, 1988
There are 40 days in the season of Lent. The 40 days start on Ash Wednesday and, not including Sundays, end the day before Easter Sunday. Let us use “Lord Who Throughout These Forty Days” (UMH 269) to reflect on the meaning of this season.
The beginning of the hymn refers to Luke 4:1-2, where “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”
In solitude, Jesus fasted, prayed and struggled against the devil to understand who He was and His mission on earth.
In the same way, Lent is the season where we need to slow down and reflect on our lives here on earth. We ask God to teach us to focus on Him, and to give us strength so that when trials and temptations come, we may overcome the evil one.
Stanza three is a petition for self-renewal. If we are willing, we can go through the journey of dying to self and living by God’s holy word. We cannot do this on our own, but only by the grace of God. We may remember to lift to God this petition for renewal as we journey through Lent, but it is a process we ought to practice throughout the rest of our lives as well.
Stanza four reminds us that “these forty days” lead us to the cross of Christ. We will soon arrive at Holy Week and re-tell the Passion of Christ (the last days of Jesus’ life). As we reflect on Jesus’ life and ours, shall we pray as Paul prayed for the people in Ephesians?
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Stanza five contains another petition to God. We acknowledge that life is tough and full of challenges. We live in a world of suffering. But we have hope in Christ, and pray that He will “Abide with us” so that in Him and through Him, we may find joy in the journey’s end.
Picture by vitanovski/Bigstock.com
Judith Mosomos is Acting Director of Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.