A Hymn for Lamenting

Apr 16, 2024

On Sunday evenings, my church is going through Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop.

It's a book about discovering the grace of lament. 

The author describes his own journey of lamenting with his wife through the loss of their stillborn daughter, multiple miscarriages and a false positive pregnancy. 

He defines lament as "prayer in pain that leads to trust" and goes on to describe four stages of lament that include turning, complaining, asking and trusting.

In the very first chapter, Vroegop points out that one third of the book of Psalms (Israel's hymnal) wrestles with pain while the theme of lament rarely appears in our hymnals and worship songs. 

It's true that there are many hymns that seem to reduce the Christian life to "singing I go" and "happy, happy, happy" when that's not a completely truthful depiction.

In actuality, we can and do have everlasting joy while still experiencing human emotions like sorrow, grief and lament. It's nuanced.

That got me thinking. What are some hymns of lament included in our hymnals today?

Well, it turns out there are many hymns with the themes of turning, asking and trusting, but it's that second element of complaining that is harder to come by. My guess is that it has to do with the desire to avoid the kind of complaining that comes from a sinful motive rather than a biblical one. 

Nevertheless, a few hymns do exist that help us lament.

Any paraphrase of the Psalms that are mostly lament will do and since Isaac Watts paraphrased the entire book of Psalms for his psalter, many of his hymn will work. (Tip: Search those Psalms at Hymnary.org). 

There's also Horatius Bonar's No, Not Despairingly which is a lament over sin that ends in trust. 

But right now, the best example I've seen is a new one by Jordan Kauflin. 

Watch it below and let me know what other hymns come to mind as suitable for lamenting. You can email me here.


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