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Fifth Sunday in Lent

In some traditions, today is known as Passion Sunday, marking a distinctive shift in emphasis from the penitential recollection of the desert towards the atoning, redeeming events of the passion.  On this day we may focus on Jesus 'setting his face towards Jerusalem', consciously deciding/deducing that his destiny is now to go there and face the inevitable.  Or we may focus on him standing at some elevated location, able to look at the cityscape below, and weeping over it.

In other traditions Passion Sunday is the name reserved for next Sunday, the last one in Lent, a reminder that even amidst the jubilation of celebration the spectre of doom is abroad.  On the brightest morning, shadows still fall.

So, which hymn from BPW today then?  I have opted for one that is the greater part of a thousand years old, because to have survived for half the life of Christianity, it must have something important to say...

Alone now going forth, O Lord,
in sacrifice to die;
is all your sorrow naught to us
who pass unheeding by?

Our sins, not yours, you bear, dear Lord;
make us your sorrow feel,
till through our pity and our shame
love answers love's appeal.

This is earth's darkest hour, but you
can light and life restore;
then let all praise be given to you
who lives for evermore.

Grant us to suffer with you, Lord,
that, as we share this hour,
your cross may bring us to your joy
and resurrection power.

Peter Abelard (1079-1142), tr Francis Bland Tucker (1895-1984) alt. © Church Publishing Inc

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