Lent Daybook, 4: Mourning and Dancing

Welcome to a Lent daybook for these 40 days of prayer. You can see all the previous Lent daybook 2019 posts here.

Is this your first time to practice Lent? Here's a simple introduction.

Look: Second Line, Steve Prince

Artist Statement:

Prince, born and raised in New Orleans, draws inspiration for his work from a New Orleans funerary tradition called the “dirge” and the “second line.”

The “dirge” is a lament for the dead, especially one that is performed as part of a funeral rite. It can be a mournful song, piece of music or poem. The “dirge” can also be referred to as the “first line” because it is traditionally the music played during the funeral march from the funeral home to the cemetery.

After the body of the deceased is laid to rest, the “second line” begins, a jaunty, syncopated rhythm that is often used in the blues and jazz music associated with New Orleans. The “second line” is supposed to characterize the celebration of the rising of the spirit after death.

Prince recognizes this constant battle between the “dirge” and the “second line” as key indicators of the redemption he struggles with as a follower of Christ. “The dirge and the second line, we do it every day,” said Prince.

The New Orleans native goes as far as to suggest that his faith and his art are more intertwined than the viewer can see. He said, “No matter how hopeless my work can seem, there’s always hope.”

Search YouTube for examples of Second Line marches.

Listen: “Second Line (Live)” from A New Orleans Street Parade: Live in Paris, The Imperial Brass Funeral Jazz Band

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Listen to my entire playlist on Spotify - Lent: Spirituals & Gospel Songs. Add it to your account by clicking ‘Follow.’

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”


“If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out.”


”For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. “


”The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’
— Psalm 30:5b, 8-11 * Deuteronomy 7:17-19 * Titus 3:3-8a * John 1:43-51 (ESV)

Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year C). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 1) with the Psalm for the Morning Office.

Pray & Do:

Each week during Lent, we will devote Saturdays to connecting with An American Lent from The Repentance Project. It's God's kindness that leads us to repentance, and in His kindness and provision for reconciliation, He invites us to make confession and ask for forgiveness on behalf of not only ourselves but our forefathers and mothers. We carry a heavy load of guilt and grief in our nation as a result of centuries of grievous sin and unrelenting injustice against African Americans.

Go here to download a PDF or subscribe to receive daily reflections from An American Lent.

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Read, reflect, and repent with An American Lent.

Begin with prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit. I invite you to turn the attention of my heart toward you. Thank you for every good and perfect gift that comes from you. Today, I receive the gift of godly grief that produces repentance within me. I confess my need for you. Make me attentive to your Spirit and the work that you desire to do within me. I am yours, Lord. Amen.
— An American Lent, Week 1

Spend time today reading through the reflections for Week 1 (March 6-10): Grieved into Repenting. Pay special attention to Thursday’s reflection on lament from Rev. Dr. Aaron Graham. Consider writing your own psalm of lament using the outline Dr. Graham provides.

  1. Begin with a complaint.

  2. Turn to a request.

  3. End with an expression of trust.

For additional help, I’ve appreciated the wisdom of my friend Dr. W. David O. Taylor on this subject: Writing a Psalm of Lament.

Additional recommendations for your weekend:

Watch 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and based on the true story by Solomon Northup.

If you don’t receive blog posts via email already, Lent is a great time to start!

(See all Lent daybook posts from 2018 here.)