Crystal Ball: Lent and Easter, 2020

At SWUC, our reflective music during Lent will include a flute solo of ‘Peace’, a classic song by Horace Silver from  1959. The unusual and wonderfully evocative harmony in the background (eg. C7 BΔ Cø BbΔ) are merely suggested. Originally from the jazz world, this song can yet invite peace in hearts and communities in secular and sacred settings.

Group singing is suspended at South Woden, but here are suggestions for your family or private sing:

8 Mar. Psalm 121. This is International Women’ Day, so a leader may choose not to use the psalm in favour of other texts relevant to this observance.

  • As noted elsewhere in these pages, the Psalms are typical of the literature and habits of the times in making little direct reference to women.
  • One of the many settings of the Magnificat will always be suitable for IWD.
  • At SWUC, it is also a combined service at St James.
  • Many tunes suit, of which a couple of easy choices are:
    • Lennon and McCartney’s 1965 song Help.  SW and St James lead singers will present the verses with backing harmony — yes, a little more restrained then the Beatles.
    • TiS 77, being by John Bell, is also singable and enjoyable.
Moses strikes the rock (at Meribah) by Arthur Boyd

15 Mar. Psalm 95. A rich song that recalls the Israelites ‘hardening their hearts’ as they ran out of water. Who wouldn’t? Survival is a strong instinct. The psalmist asks us, in times of stress, to listen to the voice, or our inner knowledge, of divine stewardship and care.

🎵 A wide choice of musical styles is available here for this song of praise and joy. Try PFAS 95C for a harmonious meditative chant (requires rehearsal); and TiS 53 for the Calypso touch. Sing both if you can; at SWUC we shall present the equally beautiful 95E to fit in with the atmosphere of Lent. Listen (not a great recording but you get the idea): Ps95 PFAS 95E


No crystal ball foresaw the rapid and ubiquitous onset of COVID-19. The wilderness experience becomes reality.

So as members of our community must physically withdraw from each other, rehearsal and singing together must cease for a season. However, the psalms teach equanimity, kindness and trustfulness in times of doubt and strife. 

Continue to sing the psalms for solace, inspiration and hope, using these pages and your own imaginative resources. 

Contact me using the contact page to report your progress, experience, concerns or needs.



22 Mar. Psalm 23.  Little need be said on the psalm itself whose popularity has led to a wealth of music settings. The Spanish setting El Señor es mi pastor, (PFAS 23I) is a favourite. This week as a nice alternative sing the Paul Kelly song, Meet me in the middle of the air. (Watch>)This draws on Psalm 23 and I Thess. 4:17. More on the psalm and music>

29 Mar. Psalm 130. This psalm is another song of ascent (psalms 120 to 134). It’s also the sixth of seven penitential psalms.

Whales off Bribie
Whales playing off Bribie Island

It’s a statement of the mystery not only of the human condition, with all its faults and frustrations, but also of our access to grace. The psalm asks for forgiveness and redemption for Israel, though in modern context it clearly has a wider application.

Sinead’s Out of the depths is suggested but only in the version which uses the text of the psalm and her chorus as a refrain. Otherwise, in her youtube clip you will not hear the words of the psalm. 


5 April 2020. Palm Sunday. Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. Alt Ps 31:9-16. We have sometimes done psalms for both liturgies, palms — on entering, although we will not be doing that in times of covid  — and passion. Some easy choices are:

  • 118: Willcock’s TiS 74, This is the day, or PFAS 118K.
  • 31C in PFAS is a beautiful arrangement with an echo voice.
Saints: Augustine Museum, Freiburg

Good Friday, 10 Apr. Ps 22. If any music is intended for this sombre observance then TiS9, another Christopher Willcock composition, is suitable. It’s hard to sing on your own at home so  this may be one to sing as a chant to a few notes, as has been tradition over centuries in the Roman tradition of Gregorian chant. But musty history does not own this – you can make it a tuneful story-line by improvisation. 

Easter Sunday, 12 Apr. Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24. See 3 April above for this selection and earlier posts such as this time last year. An alternative is Paul Stookey’s The building block, but our group has repeated this quite often so it may not appeal.

2 thoughts on “Crystal Ball: Lent and Easter, 2020

  1. Hi Brendan

    Thanks for this information.  The flute solo will be most appropriate.  I am worship leader for the first Sunday of Lent.  I will leave it you to decide the best way to present the Psalm.

    Many thanks for your help – as always.



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