This is a very special song to me. It was written out of simple place of seeking the Lord. It was about 10 years ago, and I found myself being drawn back to the Catholic Church, after having really given my life to the Lord as an adult in the Protestant realm. There is a small Catholic chapel in Ellicott City, MD called "Our Lady's Center." And they had a noon Mass every day. So I went on Ash Wednesday that year.
I was struck by the priest's reverence toward the Eucharist. I remember him distinctly brushing a few minute crumbs of the broken host from the paten into the chalice, so as not to let any of the Body of Christ be defiled or unconsumed.
Then when the time came for the adminstering of the ashes, I'll never forget hearing him repeat, over and over again, "Remember man, that thou art dust; and unto dust thou shall return…" It just really hit me, the brevity of this life, and the gravity and import of living it fully for the Lord.
So when I got out to my car, the phrase kept resounding in my spirit, and next thing you know the melody that you see transcribed above starting playing in my head. So it was one of those songs that sort of wrote itself.
Unlike alot of Ash Wednesday hymns, this one only has one verse. That's because I wanted to relay that holy realization that I had on that Ash Wednesday, the repetition of the phrase, and the importance of letting God order our lives, which is the message of the verse from Psalm 90.
So basically, you just repeat the refrain and the verse the entire time of the adminstering of the ashes, or during communion during Lent. (Of course, if it becomes more tedious than holy, by all means break out the Gather book or what have you and go to the next song). What we usually do at St. John's is sing it through a few times, then do the whole thing instrumentally. Then sing it a few more times, etc.
Speaking of instrumentally, a good intro for this piece is to play the refrain just on the piano, then sing it.
For $1.95, make up to 14 copies on your own from the printout. It goes to a great cause - feeding our six children! On a musician's salary!