The season of Lent is upon us! You have probably noticed a big change in the music at Mass. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about why the Lenten season is so different when it comes to music.
Why is there no “filler music” during Lent…it seems so quiet and awkward!
According to the USCCB, there is to be no background music during the season of Lent. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that “In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.” (USCCB Ch. V, Title III, #313) This means that during the season of Lent we are not allowed to play an instrument for any other reason than to support congregational song.
Why is there so much Latin? And what does it mean?
There are a few parts of the Mass that we have been doing in Latin for the season of Lent, and this past year Advent as well. The two pieces we do in Latin are the Sanctus (Holy Holy) and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). They are a direct translation of the English versions, and are taken from Mass XVIII (Vatican Edition) which was originally written as a Gregorian chant style. It is the official Mass for the season of Lent, as well as at funerals. These sacred chants have been around for hundreds of years, and are done all throughout the world at Mass. So the question is why do we do it? Because it is the Mass that was written for Lent! Despite popular belief, the Kyrie that we sing toward the beginning of Mass is actually in Greek, not Latin. It translates to “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy”.
Why is the music so dirgey and dark sounding?
This has to do with the feeling of Lent as a whole. Lent is a somber time, and a time for personal reflection on what Jesus did for us on the cross. The style of Lenten music was written with this in mind, to give a somber feeling to the Mass. This helps us remember what the Lenten season is all about. It is for this reason also that we use some of the same hymns each week of the Lenten season.
Come, join the choir!
We are always accepting new members, but the Lenten and Easter seasons are the best time to join! No experience
needed. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the choir here at St. John, please contact me, Dominic at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-206-1417 (cell).
Dominic Kryst – Director of Music Ministry