Our Lent Playlist

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The season of Lent is a forty-day period mirroring Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness. During this time, participants devote special attention to the ache of incompletion, suffering, and trial in their lives, both collectively and individually. Hemmed in by Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday, Lent begins with the dust of mortality and ends with the broken bread of the Last Supper.

As Lent is traditionally considered a season of “prayer and fasting,” it’s often associated with gloom, giving up chocolate or coffee, and other forms of funlessness. But it’s important to remember that self-denial is not the ultimate goal—in fact, and rather counterintuitively, the hope of Lent is that by acknowledging the depth of our ache, we would be led to greater depths of joy.

N. T. Wright said it beautifully: “Following Jesus means denying yourself, saying ‘no’ to the things that you imagine make up your ‘self,’ and finding to your astonishment that the ‘self’ you get back is more glorious, more joyful than you could have imagined.”

So with this Lent playlist, we offer you some songs that have stirred in us both a greater recognition of our own need and a deeper hope for the restoration that is to come.

Illustration by Ned Bustard, from Doug McKelvey’s liturgy for “Those Who Weep Without Knowing Why”

Click here to listen to our Lent playlist on Spotify.

And here on Apple Music.

“Dust We Are and Shall Return” by The Brilliance

A beautiful arrangement of a traditional Ash Wednesday liturgy.
—Chris Yokel

“Fell Like A Feather” by Amy Stroup

The line “the light stings as it tears through unbelief” feels about as Lenten as it gets to me.
—Kelsey Miller

“Carbon Ribs” by John Mark McMillan

His album The Medicine is still a staple in my Lent to Good Friday listening, mostly because it doesn’t shy away from the grit and reality of life on earth while reaching for the mystery of indwelling spirit and resurrection. This song in particular captures that tension and longing beautifully.
—Jen Yokel

“The Trapper and the Furrier” by Regina Spektor

This visceral song exposes the falseness of worldly power with a grief and weariness that whets my appetite for justice.
—Drew Miller

“Let It Fall” by Over The Rhine

‘Cause rain and leaves
And snow and tears and stars
And that’s not all my friend
They all fall with confidence and grace
So let it fall, let it fall

While I know that this song is from a Christmas album (Blood Oranges in the Snow), it’s articulated the concept of loss for me over the past few years in a way that no other song has done. It’s kind of sat with me in my grief and let me ugly-cry. But it’s also reminded me, over and over again, that, in Gospel-economy, falling into the ground is a death unto life.
—Lanier Ivester

“High Noon” by Andrew Peterson

The Lenten season is an annual invitation for us to respond to the events that ushered in a new reality. I’ve always loved Andrew’s song for the way it beckons us, “Let the people rejoice / Let the heavens resound / Let the name of Jesus, who sought us / And freed us forever ring out.”
—Matt Conner

“Hard To Get” by Rich Mullins

This is my favorite song Rich ever wrote, and he died before he could record it, but I think the rough demo version he taped as he played his guitar in an old church perfectly captures the raw ache of the song. At one point he invokes Jesus’ sleepless night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the sweat mingled with blood, the anguish, the utter loneliness of a God who understands the depths of our loneliness.

But to me this song feels most like Holy Saturday—the dark space of waiting and confu