16 February 2015

Burying the Alleluia

For those who follow the traditional calendar with the "Gesima" Sundays, you would have done this on the day before Septuagesima. But for those of us who follow the revised Latin Rite calendar, on Shrove Tuesday all the children will place their decoratively written Alleluias in a small coffin near the entrance of the church. We’ll sing the “Alleluia dulce carmen” at the end of Mass, as we process to the Lady Chapel, where the coffin will remain until the great Easter Vigil.

There are many local traditions surrounding the “Burying of the Alleluia,” but the purpose is always the same: to mark the cessation of singing or saying the Alleluia during the penitential season, so that it can break out as a new song at Easter. As the 13th century bishop, William Duranti, wrote, “We desist from saying Alleluia, the song chanted by angels, because we have been excluded from the company of the angels on account of Adam's sin. In the Babylon of our earthly life we sit by the streams, weeping as we remember Sion. For as the children of Israel in an alien land hung their harps upon the willows, so we too must forget the Alleluia song in the season of sadness, of penance, and bitterness of heart.”

Alleluia, abide with us today, and tomorrow thou shalt set forth, Alleluia ; and when the day shall have risen, thou shalt proceed on thy way, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

May the good angel of the Lord accompany thee, Alleluia, and give thee a good journey, that thou mayst come back to us in joy, Alleluia.

May Alleluia, that sacred and joyful word, resound to God's praise from the lips of all people.

May this word, which expresses glory as chanted by the choirs of angels, be sweet as sung by the voices of believers.

And may that which noiselessly gleams in the citizens of heaven, yield fruit in our hearts by ever growing love.

May the Lord's good angel go with thee, Alleluia ; and prepare all good things for thy journey. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

Let us pray. O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.