Lenten Season Worship Suggestions


We’re providing this seasonal resource to aid parish pastors in their worship planning. The specific purpose of this resource is to give parish pastors ideas and resources that are:

  • Accessible. As an outlying district, most of our congregations are smaller than average. We aim to provide musical suggestions with which just about any congregation with any level of musical talent can work.
  • Supplemental. We don’t aim to reinvent the wheel or duplicate what’s being done elsewhere. For example, you won’t find a full array of hymn suggestions, since those can be found in the recently-revised Planning Christian Worship series. Most often, suggestions for musical settings of the psalm of the day will not mention any of the Christian Worship resources (hymnal, new service settings booklet, supplement), since we assume pastors are aware of those.
  • Practical. We aim to give you ideas, resources, even bulletin material that you can easily use. Feel free to copy and paste as much as you want.


You often hear about people “giving something up” for Lent. Usually it’s some minor, insignificant vice like sweets. However, during Lent God calls us to give up something much more serious: our sin. The readings during Lent this year focus on twin aspects of repentance: contrition and faith. God’s pointed attacks against the sins that beset his people help us put off the attitudes and actions of our sinful nature. Jesus’ perfect righteousness as our substitute assures us that we are right with God and empowers us for godly living. May God bless his people as they seek to give up the sin that so often entangles us and continue to run the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, second lesson on Palm Sunday).


Consider using the following resources throughout the season of Lent:
Ash Wednesday/Sundays in Lent

  • Penitential Gathering Rite During the solemn season of Lent, the church’s jubilant song of praise, Gloria in Excelsis, is omitted. A well-known Bible story that not only sets the tone for Lent but is chosen as the gospel for Lent 4 is the Parable of the Lost Son. Jaroslav Vajda’s hymn, “In Hopelessness and Near Despair” (CWS 738), is a recasting of Martin Luther’s penitential hymn “From Depths of Woe I Cry to You (CW 305). It uses imagery from Psalm 130, the Parable of the Lost Son (“now prodigal, now Pharisee,” stanza 2), and beautifully speaks of the
    blessings of confession and absolution. Words from the Psalm, the parable, and the hymn, can easily be used to construct a penitential rite for the beginning of the service. Consider singing stanzas 1-2 after the spoken confession and 3-4 after the absolution.
  • Verse of the Day Psalm and Gospel Acclamation for Lent, Stephen Pishner. The refrain makes use of the tune WONDROUS LOVE. The resource includes verses for Ash Wednesday, the Sundays in Lent, and Holy Week, although they don’t always match up with the verses assigned in Christian Worship. The congregation sings the refrain. A choir or soloist sings the verse.
    Midweek Services
  • Compline: Prayer at the Close of Day There are two settings of Compline in Christian Worship: Occasional Services. This part of the daily office includes a confession of sins, and also makes use of language from the passion history (“Into your hands I commit my spirit,” “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”), making it very fitting for the midweek services during Lent.
  • Agnus Dei: O Christ, Lamb of God Consider singing a setting of “O Christ, Lamb of God” following the sermon or devotion during these midweek services. Any of the settings in our hymnal would work, including Christian Worship 268. Another option that is very easily used (perhaps with some slight adaptation) is Lenten Lamb of God, which makes use of the tune WERE YOU THERE.

More to Come

In the coming days we’ll post resources for Ash Wednesday and Lent 1-6.

Rev. Jonathan P. Bauer

Jonathan Bauer serves at Good News Lutheran Church, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.

Full biography »