Lenten Liturgical Changes

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Date: March 12, 2017
Time: 10:00 am
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Lenten Liturgical Changes

“Liturgy” refers to a public work of worship done on behalf of the people. For us, it refers to a form of worship—the “rubrics” or “rules” that we use to conduct our main services as well as the music, art, flowers and other details of our worship. Throughout the year, churches make liturgical changes to signal a new part of the liturgical year and (to be honest) to keep church interesting. In Catholic and Episcopal churches, we signal the change in season in a variety of ways: changing the color of vestments and altar frontals (table cloths); modifying the liturgical language; adjusting the musical mood; etc.

On March 1, we begin the season of Lent, which probably has the most intentional changes in liturgy of any liturgical season. It is most famously known as the season in which we “bury” our Alleluias. The joyous expression of “Alleluia” is omitted in Lent so that we can reflect upon the sinfulness of humanity that led to the trial and execution of Jesus Christ. We resurrect the word “Alleluia” on Easter to return to the joy of our saved state.

We change the liturgical color to purple, which signifies two things: a season of penitence and the royalty of Jesus as the king of heaven. (Sidenote: in many churches, the Lenten color is not purple, but rather undyed linen for a very simple “sackcloth and ashes” look. However, most churches economize so that we can use purple in both Lent and Advent.)

It has been Good Samaritan’s tradition to chant the Eucharist during Lent and Advent for a significant difference of style and pace. We also change the “service music” (such as the “Holy, holy, holy” song and “Lamb of God”). All these temporary modifications catch our attention and remind us that we are in Lent, and that God wants us to look inward and to turn back to Jesus, renewed and reinvigorated.