Anthems for Lent, 2019

Dr. Robert C. Mann
Resource Library Director

I have selected a number of anthems for worship during Lent that range in level of difficulty from easy to moderate. Anthems marked CPDL may be copied freely from this source. Others can be purchased directly or downloaded from the publisher. All compositions may be found in the CMI On-line Choral Library where you will find PDF’s and related information about each composition.




Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

Carl F. Mueller (1892-1982) SATB/Organ/G. Schirmer

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This classic anthem was composed in 1941 and is beloved by many generations of singers and congregations. Portions of the choral writing are Unison or 2-part, and the 4-part writing is simple and rhythmically unified. The E major tonal contrast of the mid-section (from E minor) with a faster tempo gives credence to the text, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” The text for the anthem is Psalm 51:10-12, the reading for Ash Wednesday.

Turn Not Thy Face from My Sins

Thomas Attwood (1765-1838) SATB/Organ
Soprano Solo

CPDL here

Attwood became organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, in 1796, and met Felix Mendelssohn in 1829 during Mendelssohn’s first trip to England. They became fast friends, and Attwood’s music reflects the melodious, romantic style of Mendelssohn. This verse anthem is very easy. The soloist sings a verse and the choir repeats in 4-part harmony. The text is Psalm 51:9-11, the same Ash Wednesday text as the previous selection.

Lord, for Thy Tender Mercies’ Sake

Richard Farrant (c.1530-1580) SATB/Organ


This composition is a very short, easy setting of a portion of Psalm 51 as conceived by poet Henry Bull (d. 1575). If your choir has never sung any music from the 16th Century, this piece would provide a lovely introduction. Homophonic in style, there is gentle imitation between voices with the phrase “that we may walk with a perfect heart.” The brevity of this selection could function as a prayer response.

Thou Knowest, Lord, the Secrets of our Hearts, Funeral Music for Queen Mary, Z860

Henry Purcell


Thou Knowest, Lord

Bob Chilcott SATB/Organ/Oxford University Press

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This beautiful text from the Book of Common Prayer, 1662, is the source of these musical settings, 1695 and 2013. The Purcell setting is brief and uncomplicated; the Chilcott version (originally published as movement six in his Requiem) is more substantive and well worth the effort required to prepare it for performance.

Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive

David Ashley White 2-part/Piano or Organ/Selah

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Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive

Nancy Raabe SAB/Piano

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Here are two settings of a well-known text by Rosamond E. Herklot (1905-1987) inspired by the Lord’s Prayer. White’s D minor musical setting uses the American hymn tune, DETROIT, from Kentucky Harmony, 1820. The 2-part writing can be sung by female, male, or mixed voices and the anthem would work well with a youth choir. Raabe’s setting uses an original melody in a major key, and, though marked for SAB voices, is actually 2-part. The piano part is strongly pianistic and offers great support and interest to the voice parts.

None Other Lamb

Craig Courtney SATB/Piano/Beckenhorst Press

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None Other Lamb

Will Todd SATB/A Cappella/Boosey and Hawkes

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This poem by Christina Rossetti is based on scripture appropriate for Lent 4, C but can be used throughout Lent. The strophic setting by Courtney begins with sopranos singing the first stanza in a melodic, effective setting of the text. The two remaining stanzas repeat the melody in the soprano with harmonic accompaniment in the lower voices. Todd’s short, strophic setting (43 measures) begins with female voices singing the opening phrases in chant-like fashion answered by 4-part jazz-influenced harmonies. Both composers employ sensitive text painting in contrasting styles that do justice to the strong text.

Saw ye my Savior?

James Hopkins SATB/Organ/E. C. Schirmer

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This Anonymous hymn from Southern Harmony, 1831, is appropriately set by James Hopkins to the American Folk Tune, ATONEMENT. The strophic setting has a lyrical melody typical of a folk tune with unified, limited rhythmic movement in the voices, supporting the sadness of the text. (“Saw ye my Savior? Oh! He died on Calvary to atone for you and me.”) Scripture designated for this text is assigned to Lent 4, C.

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

Mary McDonald SATB/Piano with Optional Percussion/Hope

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Frederick Faber’s (1814-1863) well-known hymn is set by McDonald in a simple, strophic, gospel style in which three stanzas are followed by the same refrain. The piano accompaniment is very rhythmical and gives essential musical interest. This setting is not for everyone but may work if one can relate the positive sense of the mercy of God with an upbeat, gospel style.

O for a Closer Walk with God

Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) SATB/Organ


This hymn by the English writer William Cowper (1731-1800) considers one’s relationship with God (“I hate the sins that made me mourn”). The musical setting by Stanford is of Moderate difficulty with lyrical melodies and sensitive 4-part harmonies.

Out of the Depths

Richard Frost SATB/Piano Violin MorningStar Music

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In this well-known Psalm 130:1-5, the psalmist expresses deep despair and cries out to God for mercy. Frost’s musical setting is in the key of D minor, and the composer writes expressively for voices and violin to create a singable, easy, but forceful setting of the text.

Jesus, So Lowly

Harold Friedell SATB/A Cappella H. W. Gray

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This classic motet by Friedell is one of the composer’s best-known works. The text, by poet Edith Williams, considers Jesus as lowly, lonely, broken, and victorious. The anthem may be sung throughout the Church Year but is frequently heard during the Lenten season.

O Mortal Man, Remember Well

Robert Lehman SATB/A Cappella MorningStar

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The Sussex Mummer’s Carol is a 19th-century English carol that reflects on the birth and death of Christ. The stanzas beginning “O mortal man” refer to Christ “crucified between two thieves and crowned with the thorn.” Lehman uses a 19th-century English melody to create a poignant setting of the text.

Turn Thee Unto Me, O Lord

William Boyce (1710-1779) SSATB/Organ Soprano 2


Boyce was a composer in the English Chapel Royal and composed music in the “high art” style of Handel. This full anthem was published in 1780 and quotes Psalm 25:16-17, 20. The composition is in three parts, the 36-measure mid-section a duet for two sopranos. The musical imitation and sequential phrases are easier than those of Handel, and this piece could serve as preparation for introducing the anthems of Handel.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Alfred V. Fedak 2-Part Mixed/Piano or Organ, Optional Treble Instrument and Congregation/Selah Publishing

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This easy concertato offers the congregation an opportunity to sing first and last stanzas of Isaac Watts’ hymn set to the tune ROCKINGHAM.