Omitting ‘Alleluia’ for Lent

Anne Timpane

By Anne Timpane, Director of Music Ministries

Alleluia is a word that is heard throughout the Christian world, whether the language of the liturgy is Latin or Greek, Slavonic or Armenian, French or English. It is a word that has occasionally been translated but, more often than not, has been left untranslated. It is the Greek and Latin form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, a word which means “praise the Lord.”

One way we mark the change of liturgical seasons is by intentionally omitting “Alleluia” from our liturgy during Lent. We do not use the word in our prayers, responses, anthems, hymns or service music. According to a website from Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, the omission of “Alleluia” during Lent goes back at least to the fifth century in the Western church, while the custom of formally bidding “Alleluia” goodbye developed in the Middle Ages. Hopefully, this verbal fast, with no “Alleluias” during Lent, will have the effect, not of depressing the mood of the liturgy, but of creating a sense of anticipation and even greater joy when “Alleluia” returns in all its heavenly splendor at Easter.

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