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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

No Alleluias During Lent

By Deacon Mary Delancey

Going back to at least the fifth century, the Church makes certain changes to the Eucharist to reflect the liturgical season. In addition to purple for vestments and the altar cloths, we no longer have flowers on the altar. Crosses around the church are shrouded in purple. There are changes in the liturgy as well; the absence of the Alleluia during this season is probably the most obvious.


The word “Alleluia” comes from Hebrew, and it means "praise Yah-weh." Traditionally, it has been seen as the chief term of praise of the choirs of angels, as they worship around the throne of God in Heaven. But we live in what is called the Now and the Not Yet. The Kingdom of God has come. But its full appearance is not yet fully revealed.


During Lent, our focus is on the fullness of the Kingdom which is still to come, not on the partial Kingdom that is here now. We are on a spiritual journey, toward the Second Coming and our future life in Heaven. To emphasize that journey, during Lent, we remove the Alleluia from the service. We no longer sing with the choirs of angels; instead, we acknowledge our sins and practice repentance so that one day we may again have the privilege of worshiping God as the angels do.

Omitting Alleluia from the liturgy during the season of Lent, is a kind of verbal fast which has the effect of creating a sense of anticipation and even greater joy when the familiar word of praise returns. We let it rest, as it were, during Lent, so that when it reappears on Easter, we may hear it anew. In fact, once it returns on Easter, we give it no rest at all, repeating it again and again, in celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. 


From:, Pennington, NJ

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