Friday, February 8, 2008

Some Lenten Thoughts

I've been following some very interesting discussions on both the PIPORG-L list, as well as on the RPInet Fora. The thoughts mainly focus on the practices of church musicians during the Lenten season. On one hand, there are those who eschew the use of the organ altogether during Lent (and an interesting solution as noted by Brian over at Christus Vincit where the church at which he's been subbing decided to go with the piano only during all of Lent) or reduce the stops as they register their hymns gradually until the organ is stilled into silence after the Gloria on Maundy Thursday. At Immaculate Conception Church, they won't be singing a Recessional Hymn at all; instead, the people will depart to an organ voluntary. I won't be playing any postludes during Lent, but my preludes will be of the more quiet and reflective nature (and if I can ever complete O Mensch, Bewein' dein' Sünde groß by at least Lent III, I would be one very happy organist indeed).

I suppose the argument here would run along the lines of "absence makes the heart grow fonder." The contrast being, more quiet, reflective music, with there being "enough" organ to support congregational singing, to silence Maundy Thursday into Good Friday, to making a joyful noise, full of happy exuberance at the Easter Vigil Masses into Easter Day. The marked difference makes sense - we are preparing for the Resurrection of Our Lord, and the music (or lack thereof) during the Lenten season could help illustrate this contrast.

Another interesting discussion: Sundays in Lent. If taken from a purely mathematical point of view, if you include Sundays, Lent would be more than 40 days long.

You have 5 weeks of Lent. That would make 35 days. If it starts with Ash Wednesday, you add on another 4 days. That makes 39. If you include Palm Sunday and the whole of Holy Week, add on another 7 days. That makes 46 days.

Remove the Sundays of Lent, including Palm Sunday, and you get 40 days. (The strange things my mind does when I'm driving home from a nice practice session on the organ!)

So given what bruise in the monastery states in his posts:
SUNDAYS ARE NOT A PART OF LENT, and Sunday worship should emphasize the penitential nature of the season of Lent.

it all makes sense. Even the Catholics have a little bit of "celebration" so to speak with Lent IV, otherwise known as Laetare Sunday, thanks to the Introit:
Lætáre Jerúsalem:
et convéntum fácite
ómnes qui dilígitis éam:
gaudéte cum lætítia,
qui in tristítia fuístis:
ut exsultétis, et satiémini
abubéribus consolatiónis véstræ.

In English:
Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. (See Isaiah 66:10-11)

In parting, bruise in the monastery pegs this whole argument beautifully with his words:
[...] Herein lies one of the prevalent problems in todays' church ... worship has become a "game." Many are missing the point of not only worship but of the liturgical seasons which are to enhance worship and not merely irritate the worshipers.

And as I follow the various arguments flying to and fro, I can't help but agree with bruise.

I, for one, will keep that in mind as I prepare my music and such during this Lenten season.

1 comment:

Brian Michael Page said...

Lyn, like I mentioned via e-mail, my take would be far to much for a combox. So I'll leave you this link.