Not Saying Alleluia During Lent is Stupid (Sure to Cause Apoplexy Among High Church Purists)
Not saying Alleluia during Lent is stupid!
There I said it, and I’m glad I did. While pastors might think that we in the pews view the fact that we don’t say Alleluia with any degree of attention or interest, they are wrong. It is stupid, silly, ridiculous and entirely fabricated out of whole cloth. But I am not the only one who thought it silly, so did Martin Luther. It’s a shame those obsessed with liturgical-trivia were able to foist the “no alleluia” rule on the Lutheran church.
Dr. Luther, in an Invocavit sermon in his House Postil wrote:
“The general duties and works of love need no new command; they are already laid down and ordered in the Ten Commandments. We are all enjoined of God to hear His Word, to love Him, to pray to Him, to be obedient to our parents, to love our neighbor, to shun all lasciviousness and to hold matrimony in high esteem. All this is God’s will and institution; therefore no especial call of the Holy Spirit to enter matrimony, to become father or mother, is needed. Such matters have all been arranged and commanded of God. But we nowhere find a command or word of God, which would demand of us to run into cloisters for the purpose of serving God, or to avoid eating meat, eggs or butter during the Lenten season, or to sing no Hallelujah in that time; and therefore all such observances are no true service of God.”
He expresses the same thought in Formula Missae (AE 53:24):
“For the alleluia is the perpetual voice of the Church, just as the memorial of His passion and victory is perpetual.”
My good friend Pastor Weedon feels strongly there is deep meaning in all the liturgical trimming during Lent. He takes his cue from O.P. Kretzmann who, in my view, indulges in rhetorical and romanticized puffery, not substance. I can’t agree, but he makes his point well.
OK, now that I have a few people thoroughly exercised, please note that I am not saying we should ignore this rubric and that we should not follow it, I’m simply saying why I think it is stupid. But since it is adiaphora, I am happy to give up a bit of my freedom and personal opinion for the sake of unity. We’d all be better off if we did that.
For instance, some might think throwing themselves on the chancel floor is a great way to observe Good Friday, but we don’t do it, that is, if we care about unity. Some think putting the Lord’s Supper away in a Tabernacle on the altar and claiming it is perpetually the Lord’s body and blood and adoring it is a good thing, but we don’t do that. We know better. Some think that ignoring the rubrics and the liturgy and swapping out for it something that looks like the local non-denominational church is ok, but it is not. As much as possible, we must all give up our freedom and our right to exercise that freedom, for the sake of unity. The wisdom of the adage “Say the black, do the red” is still very much holds, and I wish it were everywhere observed.
So, you are free to disagree with a rubric, but in love, you follow it. If we follow rubrics for the sake of rubrics, then that is a problem. When doing the liturgy “just so” becomes an end in itself, we have a problem. Rubrics are a means, to an end, not the end itself. There’s something more important here than rubrics. And this is precisely why we follow them!
Now you know the point of this blog post.