Sign Us with Ashes / Merciful God - Ritual Song for Lent

This hymn was written by American Presbyterian theologian, university profession and hymn-writer, Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle (b 1953).

It was originally for use during the Song for the distribution (Imposition) of ashes on  Ash Wednesday, and first published in 2003 set as a choir-piece to the tune PHOENIX, by William Rowan.  This has a 6/4 time signature. In the key of  Bb, the first few notes are  D E F F C_ B A G D_ with accompanying chords Bb / F / Gm / Dm.

Later, Bringle added two optional refrains, which can be used with the same verses as either an entrance or communion hymn during Lent.   The song was published with all three refrains, under the title Merciful God in 2006.   In this, it was set to an unnamed tune by Tony Alonso. which has a 4/4 time signature. In the key of  Fm, the first few notes are  c ABc A_ B GA  B_ with accompanying chords Fm Ab Eb Cm7



Based on an image from MaxPixel


Downloads


Alonso tune


Examples

Soloist / choir with piano, tune by Tony Alonso:



Choir with piano-led band, recorded live in a church service. Tune PHOENIX



Choir with piano:


Lyrics

The lyrics are copyright so cannot be reproduced here. But they are currently available on this website. A rough outline is:
Ash Wednesday chorus:
Sign us with ashes, merciful God,
children of dust, as to dust we return.
Sign us with ashes, merciful God.
Mark us and make us your own.

OR
Gathering chorus:
Gather your people, merciful God,
Gather the longing, the lost, the unsure.
Gather your people, merciful God,
Name us and claim us as yours.

OR
Eucharist reflection chorus:
Feed us and guide us, merciful God,
Light when the shadows of life cloud our view.
Feed us and guide us, merciful God,
People who hunger for you.

1 Surely, you alone can save us ...

2 Surely, you alone uphold us ...

3 Surely, you alone can heal us ...

4 Surely, you alone can free us ...

5 Surely, you alone refine us ...

6 Surely, you alone redeem us ...

See more ...


KEEP IN CASE ORIGINAL IS REMOVED, BUT DO NOT DISPLAY
Ash Wednesday chorus:
Sign us with ashes, merciful God,
children of dust, as to dust we return.
Sign us with ashes, merciful God.
Mark us and make us your own.

OR
Gathering chorus:
Gather your people, merciful God,
Gather the longing, the lost, the unsure.
Gather your people, merciful God,
Name us and claim us as yours.

OR
Eucharist reflection chorus:
Feed us and guide us, merciful God,
Light when the shadows of life cloud our view.
Feed us and guide us, merciful God,
People who hunger for you.

1 Surely, you alone can save us.
You pay our price with precious blood.
Reaching through your great compassion,
you lift up your people with love.

2 Surely, you alone uphold us.
You give us strength for all our needs.
Shielding with a father’s favor,
you bless us with pardon and peace.

3 Surely, you alone can heal us.
Yours is the will to make us whole.
Soothing with a mother’s kindness,
the contrite of heart, you console.

4 Surely, you alone can free us.
You break the bonds of guilt and sin.
Bracing, till we walk uprightly,
you bolster our hope once again.

5 Surely, you alone refine us.
You give us grace for lives made new,
forging, through your fire and radiance,
a sacrifice worthy for you.

6 Surely, you alone redeem us.
You fill our dust with holy breath.
Bursting from the grave in glory,
you rise from the ashes of death!

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