Acts of violence, natural disasters, tragedy, and war are devastatingly normal events. Yet they always seem to take us by surprise. As individuals and communities struggle to respond, one of the most valuable resources available to the church is the practice of lament.
Throughout the scriptures, God’s people offer prayers of grief and even anger when the innocent suffer. We want to believe that God is in control of everything, but we also want God to get down here and do something about it. Lament gives us language to express these feelings to God in a way that is both honest and trusting.
The moments when we call upon God to “speak up” in the midst of hurt and violence are also opportunities to corporately confess our guilt and cooperation in the making of an unjust world. Corporate lament calls a congregation to stand in solidarity with the oppressed, while corporate confession invites us to repent of ways we have acted as oppressors to the vulnerable.
Jubal House offers several free resources for church leaders looking to respond to times of crisis through corporate worship.
“O God, Do Not Keep Silent” is a hymn of lament set to the tune of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” It accompanies a liturgy of responsorial prayers that specifically address suffering, persecution, war, and unity in the church.
“Kyrie” is a cry for mercy, forgiveness, and peace. Its liturgy includes prayers in Spanish, Korean, and Chinese, along with English translations. The main theme is corporate confession, while also expressing solidarity with those who suffer.
Both pieces can be used for choral or congregational singing, with or without the suggested prayers. We hope that these resources can facilitate an effective corporate response to unexpected current events. When a community or country is reeling in the shock of unspeakable tragedy, violence, or injustice, the church must not keep silent.