Music of the Season

Lenten Music

Notes from Sarah Chernetz, Director of Music

You’ll notice the music at Mass during the Lenten Season is more somber than any other time of the year, and there is a major shift in tone (forgive the musical pun). While we still sing out confidently in praise of the Lord, we no longer sing Alleluia or the Gloria, as both have a celebratory nature, and therefore, are reserved for the non-penitential seasons.


During Lent, our focus is on Christ’s sufferings. Silence is more prominent at Mass and the music reflects and emphasizes that melancholy sentiment. Other than the bare minimum to support singing, instrumental music is omitted. On Good Friday, the voice is going to be unaccompanied.


Why do we sometimes sing in Latin?

The short answer is that it elevates our prayer, unifies us, and strengthens our community worship. We do so most often during Lent and Advent.


Our worship language has gone from Hebrew to Greek to Latin. As a result of Vatican II reforms we now elebrate Mass in vernacular languages. However, the council never intended for Latin to be eliminated from the liturgy. In fact, the council states that Latin should be preserved in the Rites, even with growing use of the vernacular at Mass (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36.1, 54).


Just as Amen and Alleluia connect us to the Hebrew language and Kyrie eleison and Eucharist connect us to the Greek language, singing in Latin also connects us with our Church history and elevates our worship.


I encourage you to embrace the beauty in the simplicity and intentional starkness of the music during Lent. Sing out in praise of God always – in every Liturgical season!

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