Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Three ways Lenten music is different from the rest of the year

Sometimes we think that Lent is primarily celebrated in hushed, quiet tones. But actually, the beginning of Lent--Ash Wednesday--starts off with the sound of the horn.

The music of Lent is not "easy-listening." It should be a clarion call to attention. Below are three ways Lenten music is different from music during the rest of the year.

  1. Lenten music is not sad, anemic, or depressed. It is powerful, focused, and intentional. (“Blow the trumpet in Zion!” Joel 2:15, from Ash Wednesday)

    • Try doing more unison or a cappella singing.

  2. Silence enfolds and punctuates Lenten music and ritual. Sobriety tempers musical extravagance.

    • Try ending the Mass in silence, that is, omit the closing song. (This only works if the ministers’ exit from the worship space is done with solemnity and intention.) Avoid masking the silence with other sound, such as rain sticks or hand drums. Perhaps have the choir members join the dismissal procession with the ministers.

  3. Ritual music dominates the Lenten liturgies. The catechumenal rites require more use of sung acclamations and chanted or sung intercessions.

    • Try incorporating more of the Mass’ chanted dialogues, for example, “The Word of the Lord…” or “The Lord be with you….”

See also this related article:

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