Remembering Jephthah’s Daughter

A litany for worship, inspired by Judges 11:29-40

by Ken Sehested

Today’s text is the brutal story of the mighty warrior, Jephthah, whose bloody victory entails the sacrifice of his only child, a daughter, whose name is lost to history.  Hear now and testify your resolve to Heaven’s intent:

Oh you, dear unnamed daughter, pawn of warrior’s reckless vow,

You whose life was bound, requiting bloody vic’try, ancient row,

You whose memory linked forever to a father’s scur’lous name,

By whose spirit, for whose honor, consumed in sacrificial flame.

      O you among the living, will you remember me at all

      Will you write my name out with a single finger scrawl

      Across a broken window, in some long forgotten wall,

      That goes stretching out forever where the tears of heaven fall

      Can I get no witness, this unholy tale to tell?

      Was God alone there watching, crying, weeping as I fell?

Yes, God was there weeping, bidding me to do the same,

Bidding me to intervene by the power of Mercy’s reign.

©Ken Sehested @

The words in italics are lyrics from Emmylou Harris' song, "Lost Unto This World"


—Ken Sehested, inspired by Judges 11:29-40, using lyrics (in italics) from “Lost Unto This World,” by Emmylou Harris and Daniel Roland Lanois