Lenten Carols album cover, showing a path made of music staves leading to a distant cross, on a parchment background

Deny Yourself

From a young age, I was always struck by the Sermon on the Mount, especially Jesus’s teachings about loving your enemies and elevating others above yourself. This seemed so far above any other moral teaching — it seemed like the only approach that could “work.” This was a major piece of what convinced young Mark that Jesus was worth following.

In 2013, I was on a sort of mission trip focused on urban poverty, during which we learned about all sorts of broken systems and toxic cycles that kept society’s downtrodden down. We also encountered loads of grassroots initiatives still clinging to hope and fighting for the “least of these” that most would overlook. At the end of our month together, we each created a piece of art on the theme of Beauty out of Brokenness. Drawing from Jesus’s more radical words about humbling yourself — and his promises for those who do — I wrote an early version of this song (perhaps the first “christian” song I ever wrote).

It began as a simple ukulele song, but as time went on, I felt a dance beat trying to burst through. I’m pleased with the noodly bass line that emerged and the kind of pandiatonic way the chorus melody sits over the chord progression. (You can buy the chord chart here.)

This is my song about humility. I hope you’re all very impressed.



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Take the last seat, not at the head
Then you might get the best seat instead
Do not try to enter by force
Only He can open the doors

Sometimes I think that what I deserve is
A badge for twenty years of service
I’m no better than the next guy
Before the throne of the Most High

Oh, Deny Yourself
Deny Yourself, Oh
Deny Yourself, Ohh

If you have any, you must give some
Maybe even half your income
Why hold on to what is not mine?
Treasures are worth more once I die

Bodies will age, treasures will rust
I am only spirit-filled dust
An empty vessel used by the Lord,
A note within his heavenly chord

Oh, Deny Yourself
Deny Yourself, Oh
Deny Yourself, Ohh

The first will not last, the last will not thirst
Although the world sees it in reverse
The Tower of Babel stands, while I’m on the ground
But Jesus turns this world upside down

The cross before me, some ignored it
But I am called to walk toward it
Only broken ones can learn it
The best leader is a servant

Oh, Deny Yourself
Deny Yourself, Oh
Deny Yourself, Ohh

Oh, If you love your life, you’re really killing it, Oh
If you give your life, you’ll be fulfilling it
Oh, Deny Yourself
Take up a cross each day, Oh
And follow him, Ohh Ohh

Oh, Deny Yourself
Deny Yourself, Oh
Deny Yourself, Ohh


Mark: vocals, ukulele, trombone, programming, mixing.

Written by Mark Amadeus Flowerdew. Recorded in Mark’s home in Halifax NS. Cover art by Mark. Released June 7, 2016.

ISRC: USHM91956038, ISWC: T9308075981, ©&℗ 2016 Mark Amadeus Flowerdew

Thanks Pelham & Drue for lyrics feedback.

More from Lenten Carols:
 1. Deny Yourself
 2. Forgive Me


 3. Powder


 4. The Harvest
 5. I Love the World


 6. I’ll Follow


 7. I’m Not Alone


 9. Ash


10. Lord, I Love You