Hymns of Lent 4

Deposition from the Cross

“There is joy for all the members in the sorrows of the Head.”

This coming Fourth Sunday of Lent is still often referred to as Laetare Sunday, “Rejoice Sunday”, after the first word in the traditional introit of Mass on that day – Laetare, Jerusalem:

Rejoice, O Jerusalem and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.

 I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.

Laetare Sunday also reminds us that we are slightly past the midpoint of Lent, so rosy vestments might well be in order.

One hymn that, in my experience, is sometimes sung on Laetare Sunday and often on Ash Wednesday, is another one by Father Faber and, of course, it’s  . . .

. . . There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.

That it should be sung on Ash Wednesday is no surprise as at the beginning of Lent it makes a lot of sense to examine our lives and conscientiously consider returning to God’s merciful embrace, much like the Prodigal Son. But on Laetare Sunday?

Let this version of the hymn speak for itself. I won’t add anything except to say that in this version, music by Calvin Hampton (1938-1984), there is a kind of quiet but deep joy very evident. This in my view comes from the certainty in Father Faber’s words that our God’s mercy and love are truly infinite and His justice kind. This makes Him always near to us and approachable, right until the last moment of our lives. Father Faber appears resolved to convince us of that point, the abundant and wonderfully healing mercy of our Lord. As Father says, if our love were but more simple. (Of course, the music helps quite a bit too!).

From the Cathedral Church of St Cecilia, Omaha, Nebraska. Again, why not listen a few times to it?



There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in His justice,
which is more than liberty.

There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measures of our mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.

If our love were but more simple,
we should take Him at His word:
and our lives would be all sunshine
in the sweetness of our Lord.

Fearful souls, why will you scatter
like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts, why will you wander
from a love so true and deep?

There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Saviour;
there is healing in His blood.

There is mercy with the Saviour; there is healing in His blood.

And thus, on Laetare Sunday we also can say with the psalmist:

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.

[Please read CP&S article The Floodgates of Divine Mercy for a moving and expansive contemplation of our Lord’s abundant mercy]


About GC

Poor sinner.
This entry was posted in Catholic Culture, Catholic Music, Devotion, Divine Mercy devotion, Hymns, Music, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Hymns of Lent 4

  1. Toadspittle says:

    What an utterly amazing and beautiful piece of what – ivory, alabaster?
    Do we know any details about it?


  2. GC says:

    Dear Toad, ivory indeed (shhhhhh!).

    From Hereford ca. 1150 AD, The Deposition from the Cross, now in the Victoria & Albert.


  3. Toadspittle says:

    Thanks much, GC. I find it far more impressive in the detail, which is not surprising, I suppose.
    When it was made, the “story” would have been as ,or more, important than the conveyed emotion.
    We see it differently now – well some of us.


  4. GC says:

    Toad, it’s thought to be a plaque for covering a sacred volume of some kind. So not all that big and to be seen up close, thus something for which detail would be important.

    But some of these medieval “Depositions” did focus more closely on Christ’s lifeless expression (or lack of expression) and the emotions of those round him. E.g.

    But I think you are right. The one at the top of this page looks more interesting to us moderns if we take out the angels and the empty spaces.


  5. GC says:

    What an utterly amazing and beautiful piece . . .

    I can’t be sure what exactly you are referring to, Toad, but what affects me is that Christ’s arms falling about the head and breast of what is probably meant to be Joseph of Arimathea looks more as if the lifeless Christ is “embracing” him (and a sorrowing, loving humanity for whom He – Christ – has just become lifeless?).

    [I’ve just discovered that the figure Christ appears to be embracing is in fact His Mother (silly me!). That there what looks like a five o’clock shadow on the figure threw me. Back to the drawing board.]


  6. Toadspittle says:


    I thought exactly the same as you, regarding Mary, GC.
    My wife says I have a predilection for depositions.
    Have spent many hours looking at this one, on various occasions. Considered the world’s finest painting for many years .


  7. GC says:

    Considered the world’s finest painting for many years.

    Do you mean “technically” the finest, Toad? We can see that. It’s full of the minutest detail, even the pattern on the cloak (?) of the man with the black headgear. And the expressions and postures, so clear and different for each figure.

    Somehow, however, it all looks a bit “balletic” to me.

    And how come you appear to be so interested in “depositions”, Toad?


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