Sacred Sounds: Devotional Readings for 2017 is a resource
written and compiled by members of the St. Olaf College Stu-
dent Congregation and the St. Olaf College Ministry Office. You
are invited into the holy season of Lent through music and re-
flection. There are devotions based upon hymns and songs.
There are psalms with accompanying prayers. And, there are
hymn texts. They are intentionally different from one another,
but all make connections between music and our Lenten jour-
May this devotional book help you to wrestle with the deep
questions of Lent, “Who am I? Who am I not?” May this devo-
tional book be a tool for honest theological reflection, pointing
us again to the power and promise of God’s grace.
Pr. Matthew Marohl
Just like the sun after a long winter fills a need that you may have forgotten
was there, Lent meets a need that you may not even know exists.
Consider the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. This story serves as
a model for our experience of Lent. Both are forty days long. Both include
fasting and prayer. Most importantly, at the heart of the wilderness story and
at the heart of Lent is the question of identity. Just before his forty days in the
wilderness, Jesus was baptized. At his baptism, God declared, “You are my
Son, the beloved. In you, I am well pleased.” An identity had been given to
Jesus at his baptism. But in the wilderness, Jesus had to answer for himself,
“Who am I?” And, “Who am I not?”
Jesus is tempted to turn stones into loaves of bread. He is famished. It would
have been so easy to produce just a little bit of food. But, Jesus had to ask,
“Who am I? When faced with great difficulty, am I going to look for an easy
answer or a quick get-away?”
When Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness were over, he had accomplished a
great thing. He had confronted temptations. But, he was also emerging with a
sense of identity. He knew who he was and who he was not. He would not
choose to follow an easy and safe path. He would not seek fame, but would
seek to serve. He would recognize God’s love all around him, even during
times of trial and suffering.
Lent is a season to ask the questions, “Who am I?” Who am I not?” These are
college questions. But asking these questions in Lent is different. Lent encour-
ages us to follow two paths. The first is one of honest self-reflection. Who am
I? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to be in the future? But, also, who do I
want to be today? Do my words and actions match my desired self-identity?
Here, Lent is about much more than giving up chocolate. Lent is about giving
up practices that prevent us from being who we are called to be. Lent is about
taking up practices that bring us closer to our desired identity. If the first path
is one of honest self-reflection, the second path is one of honest theological
reflection. When we are honest about who we are, we must be even more
honest and aware of our need for God. Lent is that time to confess our sins.
Lent is that time to strip away arrogance and our tendency toward self-
reliance and confess our need for God.
March 1, 2017
Andy Jacob '18
"Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart" (ELW 750)
This hymn has for a long time been among my top favorites. Here on the Hill,
it can be easy sometimes not to think much about our personal relationship
with God. For example, we all take religion courses during our time here that
ask us to consider great ideas of theology and the ways in which theologians
we read about have encountered God, but we often give little consideration
to our own intimate relationship with God.
However, this hymn text provides a poem full of language of personal devo-
tion to God. It is a prayer spread out over three verses that has us yearning to
see God and proclaiming that in God we fully rely: “And should my heart for
sorrow break, my trust in thee can nothing shake.” Another wonderful aspect
of this text is that it clearly states Jesus’ two greatest commands found in
Matthew 22: 37-40, right in the middle of stanza two: “Lord, grant that I in
every place may glorify thy lavish grace and serve and help my neighbor.”
Finally, the last verse is a wonderful image of us returning home to be with
God for eternity at the time of our death: “And then from death awaken me,
that these my eyes with joy may see, O Son of God, thy glorious face, my Sav-
ior and my fount of grace.”
During this season of Lent, may we take time to consider more deeply our
personal relationship with God. Let us remind ourselves that amid our deep-
est sorrows, it is God in whom we can fully trust. Resting in this love and
grace, may we remind ourselves continually to live each day according to Je-
sus’ greatest commands to glorify God in all that we do and to love our neigh-
bors as ourselves.
March 2, 2017
“The Glory of These Forty Days “(ELW 320)
O God, our deliverer, you led your people of old through the wilderness and
brought them to the promised land. Guide now the people of your church,
that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world
toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978
© 1978, 1999 Augsburg Fortress Publishing House
March 3, 2017
The glory of these forty days
we celebrate with songs of praise;
for Christ, through whom all things were made,
himself has fasted and has prayed.
Alone and fasting Moses saw
the loving God who gave the law;
and to Elijah fasting, came
the steeds and chariots of the flame.
So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
delivered from the lions’ might;
and John, the Bridegroom’s friend became
the herald of Messiah’s name.
Then grant, O God, that we may, too,
return in fast and prayer to you.
Our spirits strengthen with your grace,
and give us joy to see your face.
Devin Ames '19
"Here I Am Lord" (ELW 574)
"Here I am Lord, is it I Lord, I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord,
if you lead me."
This hymn has always been important to me. I feel as though it is a hymn that
not only is fun to sing, but also quite meaningful. Especially being at college, a
time where many people are trying to discern how to go forward, this hymn
comes as freeing. The idea of surrendering oneself to follow the will of God
wherever that may lead is scary yet comforting, knowing that God is always
Now more than ever this hymn seems absolutely amazing to me, as I am
writing this devotional while living at a Lutheran Monastery. I am around
monks who have completely surrendered to the will of God in a way that most
people today would never consider. They have chosen a life so structured
around the word of God, and their beliefs, that the other aspects of their daily
lives revolve around prayer and worship. Living in this community helps me to
clear my mind and try to listen more for what I am being called to do, as I am
able to avoid many of the distractions of a normal day.
The above passage from the hymn is so powerful, and learning not only to
listen to the calling, but also being willing to follow the path is terrifying yet
something that can be worked toward each and every day.
March 4, 2017
Introduction to Confession
In the Lenten season we hear our Lord’s call to struggle against sin,
death and the devil – all that keeps us from loving God and each
other. This is the struggle to which we were called at baptism.
God never wearies of forgiving sin and giving the peace of reconcilia-
tion. With this good news, we confess our sin against God and our
Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, forgive me. My will is bound to sin and I cannot break
I have spoken when I should kept quiet.
I was silent when I should have said something.
I acted when I knew better.
I was still when I knew I have should have moved.
For the wrong that I have done, for the good that I have failed to do,
have mercy on me.
Words of Forgiveness
By water and the Holy Spirit, God gives us a new birth.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God forgives us
all our sins.
We are sent free to be children of God, to love and serve our
March 6, 2017
Janelle Weinman '18
"Earth and All Stars!" (ELW 731)
"Earth and all stars...Sing to the Lord a new song!"
This hymn has always been on