It is Holy Week, and this edition of Jagged Rankings will be Holy Week Hymns from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday. We will save the Easter hymns for their own edition of Jagged Rankings. I hope you have had a blessed Lent, and that you have a wonderful Holy Week as we take in the beauty of historic traditions and services. This week we will ponder the mystery of the Lord’s Supper, the horror of God’s wrath being poured out at the cross, the wondrous love of Christ who bore the sin of the world on his shoulders, and reflect upon the silence of Holy Saturday when Jesus rests from his work and sanctifies even the grave.
Now, let’s get into it. As usual, there will be five hymns, and five hymns only.
All Glory, Laud, and Honor (LSB 442)
We start this ranking off with number five. This is a hymn fit for a triumphal entry. This hymn proclaims the good news of our coming King, Jesus. Sing this during the Procession of the Palms and you are in for a triumphant time. This hymn ties heaven and earth together in a beautiful moment where Jesus comes to take his place on the throne, though his throne is one that is unexpected.
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted (LSB 451)
The key, the moment, Good Friday, this hymn comes in at number four as one of the greats. It evokes a deep sense of forsaken dread, that of Christ in his final moments as he dies upon the cursed tree. This song speaks of suffering and grief, and it can be felt in its melody. This hymn draws tears from many eyes as the Lord of Life hangs on the cross. Tears that will one day be wiped away.
O Darkest Woe (LSB 448)
This hymn is underrated and marvelous. It boasts arguably one of the greatest lines in the LSB. “O sorrow dread, our God is Dead!” You can’t sum up Good Friday more succinctly than that. God hangs dead on the tree. Darkness covers the earth. This hymn adds a haunting melody to the Tenebrae that few hymns can match. That brings it to number three.
No Tramp of Soldier’s Marching Feet (LSB 444)
I will admit this hymn is new to me. It has flown under the radar for a long time, but no longer. This song is unique in that it connects its content with its sound. The song processes on, trampling as if marching along. This hymn tells the story of Jesus, all of which come to the same culmination, the same conclusion. Jesus is King. So, “Behold, behold your King!” at number two.
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded (LSB 450)
This hymn wails. There is no other way to say it. This hymn is the epitome of Good Friday. Christ pays our price on the cross. He receives the wrath of God that belongs to us sinful people. In his death, he conquers death. This song closes with our death, and the comfort we have as we close our eyes for the last time. Let me leave you with the fourth stanza.
Be near when I am dying,
oh, show thy cross to me,
and for my rescue, flying,
come, Lord, and set me free!
These eyes, new faith receiving,
from Jesus shall not move,
for one who dies believing
dies safely, through thy love.