Beloved: A New Song for Ash Wednesday

In the spirit of Lent, I have composed a new song. It is a sort of adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Regained, where Milton sees Jesus’ temptation as the defining moment in his own self-knowledge. Filled with the certainty of vocation, Jesus is able to live his life and ultimately go to the cross trusting God.

It also an attempt to integrate some of NT Wright’s work into song. Without going into too much nitty gritty detail, I would sum Wright up like this:  Wright advocates for a more nuanced definition of the word “divine” in regards to Jesus–that Jesus, like all of us, had to come to an understanding of his own role–vocation– and trust God,  as opposed to a super-hero Jesus for whom the cross was a mere inconvenience and not a true test of suffering, endurance, and trust. Moreover, Wright wants a Christian picture of Jesus to incorporate the whole of Israel’s story with it. We can’t know Jesus without knowing Israel as well. Lastly, Wright argues that Jesus’ “coronation” as king is completed on the cross itself. Jesus’s life is establishing bits and pieces of what it will look like for God to be king, but the cross is where, ironically with a crown of thorns,  Jesus becomes king.

These themes were running through my head as I tried to imagine Jesus facing true temptation, uncertainty, and doubt. I would put myself in the story as well–hence the final chorus–lest we be tempted to view Jesus’s life simply from an outside perspective.

If you are interested in the score, feel free to contact me for it. I’m happy to give it away. Images of the score are below, but they won’t be the easiest to play from.

Jesus came to River Jordan
To be cleansed with holy water,
But as he rose and saw the crowds,
His steps began to falter.
And like a dove the Spirit came
To comfort and assure
That when the seeds of doubt arise
These words will still endure.

This is my beloved son,
With him I am well pleased.
And by his life and saving death,
My own shall be released.
Wandering the desert bleak
Our Lord began to hunger.
Knowing of his weakened state,
The Satan did not slumber.
Instead he offered power and might
And how to win the people.
Tempting Jesus to despair
He questioned from the steeple

Are you the be-loved,
Fit to take the throne?
Just like Israel in the wild,
You too shall be my own.

Looking at what lay before him
The world from up above
Jesus, faint but standing firm
Recalled the gentle dove.
(Chorus 1)
Whipped and beaten, bruised and scarred,
Our Lord was made to suffer.
And though a king, he more did seem,
A lamb led to the slaughter.
Forsaken now by God and friend,
He let a cry resound.
But by the words the dove once spoke.
He knew himself now crowned.
I am the beloved Son,
My life has made God pleased.
And by my death the world redeemed
All slaves are now released.
All slaves are now released.

He is the beloved Son,
His life has made God pleased.
And by his death we are redeemed
We slaves are now released.



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