Passion Week Songs

Last year, while preaching through the ending of Matthew for Lent, I ended up writing a cycle of songs walking through the events of the last week of Jesus's life. Here are recordings of the whole cycle; lyrics are below.

We Didn't Realize (Intro)
We were twelve young fools who were set to ride
With our backs held straight at Messiah's side
And the crowds were thick and our hearts were light
But His eyes were sad and his lips were tight
Oh Jerusalem, we were welcomed in
But somewhere in my heart the feeling nagged -
Perhaps we didn't realize what we had

Along the Road from Jericho
Verse 1:
There was a time when we were great
We were the chosen of the Lord
The nations, they were left to quake
At David's crown and David's sword
But we have long in bondage lay
To foreign chariot and bow
Till revolution rode our way
Along the road from Jericho

Verse 2:
The lame they say He makes to dance
The blind He offers opened eyes
The demons scurry at His glance
The deaf, they harken to His cries
Could this be He the prophets spoke
Who comes to break the tyrant's throne
Our vindication and our hope
Along the road from Jericho

Verse 3:
See Israel's freedom come at last
The Romans he will overthrow
Behold him riding on an ass...
(Wait, what?)
Along the road from Jericho
Along the road from Jericho

Who is This, Jerusalem?
You know the old city, it is buzzing
People heard from people in the know
They say there's a new Messiah coming
Riding up the road from Jericho

I turned up without much reason
These days saviors come and saviors go
The crowds were yelling tired old “Hosanna's”
And spreading dirty cloaks out on the road

Who is this, Jerusalem?
Who is this, Jerusalem?
Just another smoking gun
Dressing up as Yahweh's son?

Though they cheered Him like a revolution
As he passed they were scratching their heads
He was riding on a beast of burden
He who healed the sick and raised the dead

They were ready to take on a legion
Behind a king who bore an iron rod
He rode with humility and kindness
And spoke of peace with man and peace with God

Who is this, Jerusalem?
Who is this, Jerusalem?
He who on a donkey comes
Preaching grace for Adam's sons

Rejoice in gladness, O daughter of Zion
And listen to the words the prophet said
For He will take the battle bow from Ephraim
And at His name the nations gather in

Verse 3:
He was not the king some of us wanted
But I stood trembling as I met His eye
For in that gaze were agelessness and sadness
Like God had come down from the gaping sky

Who is this, Jerusalem?
Who is this, Jerusalem?
He is God's annointed one -
Sing Hosannas to the Son

A House of Prayer
The temple court was jumpin'
All bustle and barterin'
Coin changing hands like a middleman
Could pay for all our sins
The businessmen were workin'
To get that board and bread
Till he arrived, a whip he'd twined
And this is what He said:

My Father's house is a house of prayer
So what do you think You're doing here
Making Yahweh pad Your bottom line
My Father's house is for everyone
The rich man's club that it's become
Has turned it into Mammon's filthy shrine
So it's cleansing time

The temple court's in chaos
There's shouts and breaking wood
The doves and sheep are running free
Where moneychangers stood

Right there in the center
The one they call the Christ
A look on His face like judgment day
Had caught us all surprised

From the mouths of infants He has prepared praise
But you treat them as of little concern
You're all about the trendy and the lofty and the gentry
But the tables, the tables they are gonna turn...

Verse 1:
Once there was a man, a man who had two sons
He bid them work the vineyard underneath the summer sun
The first son said he'd do it but relaxed there in the shade
The other swore he wouldn't but then did it anyway
Tell me which one of them did the father's will?
John came like the righteous, and it was John you killed
But prostitutes and taxmen, gladly they believe
So when the kingdom comes it will be they that are received

Oh, the stone that was rejected is the cornerstone
You can break yourself upon it or build your home

Once there was a master who planted rows of vines
He put a wall around it and dug a press for wine
He found a couple tenants and he offered it on lease
Then went away on business to some far-away country
The next year he sent his servants to collect the rent
But they slit their throats in payment, until his heir he sent
So the tenants planned his death, knowing he was the only son
But when the master comes, you know that justice will be done

Once the father of the bride
Planned to throw a wedding feast
But his neighbors all declined
So he brought beggars from the streets

He dressed them up in finery and offered them delights
But one refused a garment and was cast into the night
So the first will be rejected and the last are welcomed in
But only if the raiment of the wedding covers them

Chorus 2:
Oh, the stone that was rejected is the cornerstone
It can shatter you in pieces or make you whole

Justice is Coming
“Justice is coming,” are the words that He said,
To the ones now exalted in gold-plated beds
They build statues to prophets their fathers behead
They are tombs made of marble but filled with the dead

So beware of the Pharisee's hypocrisy
Their tassles are purple, their hearts full of greed
They tithe of their spices but show no mercy
And a reckoning comes for those they leave to bleed

So trim your wicks and love the least of these
The green is in the shoot and in the leaves
Though no one knows the hour, still by all it will be heard,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”

Justice is coming like the armies of Rome
One is dragged from the field, one is left to a home
You will flee to the mountains and cling to the bones
And the temple you built me will be only stones

Men raise abominations and tell you to kneel
And the prophets will echo the lies that they deal
And the sky will turn dark and the vultures will wheel
But the one who endures He will fix with His seal


Justice is coming when the Son comes to reignAll the kings and the nations are winnowed like grain
Then the poor and lowly, He'll give them his name
But the ones who oppressed them will find only flames

In the Upper Room
In the upper room
A somber old repast
A meal of bitter herbs
And mem'ries of the past
When the angel of death
Went out to wet his sword
And they painted the life
Of a lamb above their door

Oh, o-oh
Oh, o-o-oh

In the upper room
The master and the twelve
Sat to eat the feast
For Israel and themselves
The scapegoat had been picked
The sacrifice prepared
And murder had been writ
In the heart of one sat there

My body is the bread
My blood it is the wine
See how it is broken - come and dine
My body is the bread
My blood it has been poured
So drink it till I drink with You once more

In the upper room
He said he'd been betrayed
That soon would come the cross
And then would come the grave
And Peter swore to fight
Until the bitter end
And Judas slipped away
To do as he had planned


Best Thing That I Had
Verse 1 (Judas)
What's the price of love or of innocence?
Mine was thirty coins and a viper's kiss
I half hoped you'd fight from the trap I'd sprung
Tasting bread and wine lingering on my tongue
Though I tried to turn, turning's time had past
Oh, I betrayed the best thing that I had

Verse 2: (Peter)
I had sworn that I'd stand beside you there
But my words rang cheap when the blades were bare
Though they knew my face in the licking flame
I denied Your cause and I cursed Your name
Then the rooster crowed just as You had said
Oh, I betrayed the best thing that I had

Bridge (Judas)
Did I walk this path
Out of jealousy
Was I born to wrath
Or just prone to greed
I could not atone
I cannot break free
My guilt like a noose
Hanging from a tree

Did I turn aside
Just for fear of men?
I had sworn I'd fight
Till the bitter end
Were my lofty words
Just hypocrisy?
Son of God and man
Intercede for me

Verse 3:
(Peter) I'm a craven fool, but I'll swear it bold
(Judas) So I bought a field with my traitor's gold
(Peter) I have loved You more
(Judas) And I took the plunge
(Peter) More than all of these
(Judas) And I spilled my guts
(Peter) Let me feed Your sheep
(Judas) I have made my bed
(Both) Oh, I betrayed the best thing that I had
(Peter) But You have made the living from the dead

Not Their Kind of King
Verse 1:
There was blood on His mind, there was blood on His brow
He was praying release, calloused knees on the ground
His disciples, they woke as the mob arrived
And He knew that it was His time

The guard, they were hungry and up to no good
But He had a sad smile as He wearily stood
And He said, “Peter, put that old sword away -
My reign isn't coming that way

Oh, His kingdom's a place where the paupers have thrones
Where the sinner finds grace and the prodigal home
There the lofty are humbled and outcasts sing
But He was not their kind of king

Verse 2:
Well Pilate and Herod were taken aback
They were washing their hands, they were watching their backs
But He gave them no answer to their demands
But a nod and a simple I Am

He faced the crowd as they offered His pardon
The Pharisees muttered, the prelate He bargained
But they chose a killer and politician
And called out instead, “Crucify Him”
They screamed for His head, “Crucify Him”

Verse 3:
Well blessed are those who are poor in their bones
Who are meek, who are lowly and left with no home
At the head of their throng stands the Son of Man -
Pronouncing His battered “Amen”

Behold, the Son of God (The Crucifixion)
Verse 1:
We were there waiting in the noontime sun
Those full of fear and those just looking on
The trials done, the justice robbed
Some of them cheered and others sobbed
And I stood shell-shocked with the throng

When the doors opened to the garrison
We saw him, crowned in thorns and scorned by men
The rows of troops in uniform
The cross laid on His back they'd torn
He looked like hell and all our sin

Israel, here is your King
Israel, come look in awe
A tree He spoke is where He swings
Behold, the Son of God
Behold, the Son of God

Verse 2:
The hill stood waiting like a sun-baked skull
The women sobbing till they heard His call
“Oh daughters, weep not for the son.
Weep for the justice that will come
When you will beg the mountains fall”

His wrists were iron-split and bound in twine
We stood back watching, begging for a sign
The smell of sweat, the swelling tears
The sight of blood, the stink of fear
Were all we watchers could divine


The dice they cast for His few garments
The thieves that mocked Him as they died
The devils laughing for his torments
The spear to pierce Him in His side
Who is this, Jerusalem?
Who is this, Jerusalem?
Who is this, Jerusalem?
Who is this, Jerusalem?
He who on a cross is hung
On a cross for all we've done
What is this we have become
Who are we, Jerusalem

Verse 3:
The sun turned dark and the earth shook in pain
His ragged breathing had begun to wane
He arched his back, we heard Him scream
“My God, have you forsaken me?”
And bodies stirred within their graves

Then with a cry his final breath He drew
The curtain of the temple tore in two
One of the soldiers looking on
Called out in fear at what they'd done
And what they never could undo

Rabboni (Mary's Song)
Verse 1:
It was on a desert highway that I met Him
There were seven devils dancing in my head
But he looked at me and softly called me Mary
And suddenly the doubts and demons fled

You talked like you had fallen from the sky
You walked like a man who could never die
Oh I swore that you'd never die

Verse 2:
It was on a desert hilltop that they killed Him
Because His was not the kingdom they demand
The soldiers and the hypocrites threw curses
And devils seemed to start their dance again

Chorus 2:
You hung there red against the darkened sky
And with you all our dreams, they seemed to die
How could you, oh, why did you have to die

We came to see your grave, but they'd rolled back the stone
I felt a rage that they would not leave you alone
Peter and John both looked and fled
And I stood there with buried head
Until the gard'ner caught my gaze
For tears I could not see His face

Verse 3:
He asked me why I wept with such a longing
I asked where they had carried Him away
But through the haze I heard him call me Mary
And suddenly the dawn began to break

Chorus 3:
The Holy one I swore could never die
The one the called the teacher and the Christ
Oh God, my god – my Jesus is alive

Resurrection Day
Verse 1:
The barren desert, when it drinks
The rain, will blossom forth with green
The evening off the black west sinks
But morning from the east will spring
Though all creation speaks such hope
It seemed o'ershadowed by decay
Until death found its power broke
On this the resurrection day

Verse 2:
Though thorns may still infest the ground
And sin may harry and decry
The curse in Him has come unbound
The gates of hell thrown open wide
So sing, you saints, though faint of heart
For He has risen us to save
The chains that bound us broke apart
On this the resurrection day

Hallelujah, let the whole earth sing
Hallelujah, death, where is thy sting?
The serpent, it has struck His heel
But He has crushed its head
For Jesus Christ has risen from the dead

Verse 3:
The blood that ran from his rent hands
That blood once more runs in His veins
Before the Father now He stands
For us He prays, for us He reigns
And all that's dead once more will live
And all that's dark will burn away
When He descends to usher in
Creation's resurrection day