What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest Friend,
for this, thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?

Each year during Lent and Holy Week I find myself singing this question, day after day, again and again. This line from “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” captures the utter wordlessness I feel as I contemplate the Cross. As I see Christ there, wounded and suffering. As I consider the deep, deep love of Jesus that compelled him to die for me and, indeed, for all the world. My own words feel meager and inadequate in response to the magnitude of this sacrifice. And so I borrow language to thank him.

We all do—and what a gift it is. We borrow the rich language of early Christian poetry, of hymnody and revival meetings, of spirituals sung out in defiance of injustice. And we hear, expressed in the music itself, truths that transcend words—sorrow and sacrifice, conviction and devotion, victory and joy.

The songs of the Cross give form and voice to the resounding response of our souls. As we sing them, consider them, and pray them, these songs help us enter into the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice. They express the Good News that reverberates even in the darkest moments of Jesus’ passion—and in the darkest moments of our own lives.

The Wondrous Cross is CT’s 2022 special issue for Lent and Easter. Each of the articles in this series draws upon a piece of music to reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection—to wrestle with difficult questions, to meditate upon key moments in Christ’s passion, to delve into the mystery of salvation, and to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

When we contemplate the wondrous cross, may this borrowed language give voice to our own worship as we fall before Jesus in gratitude and thank the Savior who is truly our dearest friend.

Kelli B. Trujillo is Christianity Today’s projects editor.

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